Sleeping in the dark

by Ed

We were designed to sleep at night, when it is totally dark. One part of the human body’s cycle is melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that helps us to sleep. The pineal gland, which produces melatonin is very sensitive to light, and shuts down production if there is any light. Even if you get up in the night and turn on the bathroom light, you will shut down production, probably for the rest of the night, because the pineal gland assumes that once it sees light, that it will be light for many more hours. Melatonin is only one part of the wake/sleep cycle that depends on light. The more time you spend in full daylight, during the day, and the more complete the darkness at night, the better you will sleep.

If you have a melatonin deficiency, it may be helpful to take a melatonin supplement or 5HTP, which is an amino acid that is converted into melatonin.

Fear not the darkness of the night, as it soothes you softly into sleep.


1 Lynne Eldridge M.D. 03.11.07 at 5:37 pm

Thank you for this reminder to sleep in complete darkness. The importance seems to go beyond a good night sleep even.

Completely blind women have a very low risk of breast cancer, probably at least 80 percent less than the average woman. On the other side, women who work night shifts, and flight attendants have a higher incidence of breast cancer. Research is starting to implicate melatonin as the responsible factor. Melatonin has an anti-estrogen effect that may explain these findings.

Turn out the lights, all of them, and sleep well!

Lynne Eldridge M.D.
Author, “Avoiding Cancer One Day At A Time”

2 Ed 03.20.07 at 9:46 am

Thanks for that info Lynne. That is good to know.

3 michele 04.17.07 at 3:39 pm

hi edward great information i really enjoyed the sleeping one as i leave my bathroom light on habit i guess it was for my kids when they were little i guess it is lights out thanks

4 Robert Dickinson 04.01.09 at 2:08 pm

Please advise whether its is harmful to leave a night light on in a childs bedroom.

5 Ed 04.01.09 at 2:40 pm

Hi Rob,
It is best not to use a night light. If it is important to the child, use the dimmest one you can find and place it where it is not visible while they are in bed. Also the blue end of the spectrum is worse than the red. I’ve never seen a red night light, but putting a red filter over it may help. If you go to a high school theatre, and ask for a small piece of red lighting gel, they would probably give it to you. Gel is what they call the colored filters on theatrical lighting.

6 Annie ( Purveyor & Creator of Cute Sleep Masks) 06.24.10 at 2:02 pm

Recently I started making sleep masks for my business. I had never worn one before I started making them. After getting over the initial awkwardness of wearing a sleep mask i actually started sleeping better. I was perplexed as to the reason why i was sleeping better and started researching the benefits of sleeping in total darkness and using a sleep mask to sleep better. I wish i had known about the benefits many years ago. Now i can’t sleep without one. I’m on a mission now to help people sleep better and to look cute while doing it too.

Le Neko Noir

7 Ed 06.24.10 at 2:38 pm

You certainly have cute sleep masks, Annie. What a wonderful product to offer.

I’m curious why you started wearing sleep masks, it sounds like you did not know they would help you sleep better.

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