Republished with permission from naturalnurse.com.
When I was attending a meeting about my community, we were told that new lighting would be installed. Many people were happy to hear this, since it was thought that this would add a measure of safety for those walking around when it was dark, and as an extra security measure.
While those positive points may be true, I was not so happy with this news, since I knew it would also add to the ‘light pollution’.
Many people are not aware of the negative effects of being constantly inundated with artificial light, especially in the evening hours when natural darkness actually contributes to rest and rejuvenation, as well as the body’s ability to create and regulate specific important hormones.
A high degree of artificial light leads to light pollution. This syndrome has four components which may overlap:
Sky Glow- inhabited areas artificially brighten the night sky
Light Trespass- light flooding areas where it is not wanted
Glare- can decrease visibility and cause visual discomfort
Clutter- too many artificial light sources concentrated in over-lit areas
Over lighting causes many negative repercussions. Over lighting actually DECREASES visibility. Our eyes are naturally designed to be dark adaptive, which means the pupil opens appropriately for the amount of light that is present. When areas are overlit at night, the pupils never become dark adapted, so areas around bright lights are much more difficult to see, which actually reduces safety.
The American Medical Association has issued a statement about the negative health effects due to excessive light exposure, and they recommend that further research investigates the effects of too much light at night. They also suggest that new technologies should reduce the effects of light on human’s ‘body clocks’, also known as the Circadian Rhythm.
Circadian Rhythms are a 24 hours day/light cycle that strongly effects all physiologic processes in all living organisms. Research clearly indicates the negative effect of light pollution on birds, frogs and other wildlife. In the scientific article Missing the Dark: Health Effects of Light Pollution, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2627884/, the author points out that there is ongoing research on specific negative effects on humans, including increasing insomnia, depression, cardiovascular issues, and disturbing evidence that light pollution may be linked to increases in tumor growth, as well as the obvious effect of interfering with sleep patterns.
Scientists are investigating the link between these health issues and the fact that artificial light interferes with the body’s natural production of the hormone, melatonin. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland during the dark hours, and acts as a trigger for a wide range of biologic activities, including offering protection against the development of cancer and tumor growth.
One thing we CAN do about it, other than educate the powers that be to stop adding to the already out of control over lighting, is to take control of our own home environment. Its best to sleep in a 100 % darkened room. These are some of the tactics I use: No digital clock in the bedroom. I put tape on all the little electronic lights that are on the cable box and TV. I also have an excellent, comfortable, contoured sleep mask. The Bucky Luggage 40 Blinks Ultralight Sleep Mask is the highest rated by Good Housekeeping. Other Masks which are completely flat to your face can interfere with sleep since the eyelashes get stuck when they move naturally during sleep cycles. I pull down all window shades and close the vertical blinds that open to the patio, to block the light that trespasses right into my room. HAPPY SLEEPING!