It is a common bedtime routine to watch television, check social media, or read on a tablet before eventually closing your eyes. Although these tasks can be entertaining and relaxing after a long day, they may actually contribute to the reason why you have difficulty sleeping.
Research suggests that exposure to bright, artificial light before bed can actually reduce the production of an important sleep hormone called melatonin.
In the biochemical pathway of melatonin, it is converted from another neurotransmitter called serotonin. This conversion of serotonin to melatonin has been shown to be regulated by light. When light exposure decreases, melatonin production increases, which makes you sleepy.
Dim Light Melatonin Onset (DLMO)
In a study, participants (healthy volunteers) were either put into a room with bright lights or a room with dim lights prior to sleep. Researchers then measured melatonin levels in the blood plasma of these participants. The results of the study were profound.
Compared to individuals exposed to dim light before bed, researchers discovered that 99% of individuals exposed to bright light before bed had a later onset of melatonin production and that duration of the bright light group’s melatonin production was shortened by about 90 minutes.
They also found a greater suppression of melatonin synthesis in participants who slept with room lights on as opposed to participants who slept in darkness.
How to Improve Sleep
The implications of this study on bedtime behavior is significant. To better aid in sleep, we need to be preparing our bodies for bed.
There are some simple things that you can do to potentially help you sleep better, such as turning the screen brightness down on your devices and switching off bright lights around the house a couple hours before bed.
In addition to lifestyle adjustments, ask your doctor about Sanesco’s neurotransmitter assessment. If your serotonin measures low, this may also impact melatonin production and interfere with sleep.
When serotonin is low and sleep issues are present, implementing supplemental support for serotonin synthesis with the ingredient 5-HTP can help restore serotonin levels. This may make serotonin more bioavailable for its conversion to melatonin, which can allow for a better, more restful night’s sleep.
Gooley, J. J., Chamberlain, K., Smith, K. A., Khalsa, S. B. S., Rajaratnam, S. M. W., Van Reen, E., … Lockley, S. W. (2011). The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 96(3), E463–E472. http://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2010-2098
Clinical Support Manager at Sanesco International, Inc.
Nathan Bridges is the Clinical Support Manager at Sanesco. He holds a Bachelors of Science in Health and Wellness Promotion with a minor in Psychology. He keeps a healthy mind and body by trail running, playing chess, and regularly reviewing recent research.