There are few greater feelings than drawing your curtains closed for the night knowing that the dark abyss of sleep awaits you for hours upon hours on end. When you’re exhausted, sleep deprived, and looking to get some quality shut eye, the idea of pervasive darkness is attractive. However, sleeping in the pitch black dark and forcing your body awake with alarms might be causing you to feel so tired. Research has proven that setting alarms, hitting snooze, and sleeping in the dark during daylight hours is not conducive to your overall sleep hygiene. In fact, research which has focused on the sleep patterns of people who spend time camping outdoors in nature has found that rising and sleeping with the natural cycle of the sun is the best way to feel rested, have more energy, and be more productive.
Your circadian rhythm is your natural cycle which tells your brain when to wake up and when to go to sleep. For example, when the sun is near to setting and begins to set, your brain naturally begins producing melatonin, which helps you start relaxing so you can soon go to sleep. Likewise in the morning, the brain wakes up with the rising sun as the sunlight stimulates the brain awake. Digital devices with screens, like smartphones, have a blue light which is supposed to stimulate the same process in the brain by imitating sunlight. Rising with the sun and sleeping with the sun leads to deeper sleep, a better REM cycle, more energy, earlier waking time and earlier sleeping. Numerous studies have found that ‘night owls’ are more prone to exhaustion, which can end up leading to unhealthy weight gain, stress, and depression. Any kind of chronic stress, especially that created by chronic exhaustion from lack of quality sleep, can lead to inflammation which causes diseases and disorders.
How to sleep naturally:
First, start by going to sleep earlier in the evening so that you get a full night’s rest by the time the sun starts to wake you up. Opt for translucent or transparent curtains instead of room darkening curtains which keep out all of the light. Set your alarm for the time you will realistically wake up after snoozing X amount of times so that you don’t disrupt your REM cycle. There are room brightening alarm clocks which can help ease you into the process. These subtle alarm clocks have LED lights which gradually increase the brightness in your room like the sun entering.
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