Many people suffer from insomnia and have a hard time finding out why they struggle to fall and stay asleep. This new study has discovered a significant link between insomnia in adults and the level of light pollution in an area.
The new research pulled data from the population-based National Health Insurance Service-National Sample Cohort (NHIS-NSC) in South Korea during 2002 to 2013, using sleeping aid prescriptions as an indicator of having trouble sleeping. Light exposure was recorded with satellite data and mapped to residential areas. In total, data from 52,027 adults aged 60 years or above was used, with females making up about 60% of the participants.
The study shows that not only the people in the more light-polluted areas are more likely to take drugs to sleep but on average, they’re more likely to use them for a longer period and at higher dosages. These facts doesn´t prove that light pollution is the only reason we have problems to sleep, there are other factors to consider.
The study team suggests that more light pollution might mean a more built-up area, which also means that people have easier access to sleeping drugs. This is an important thing to consider before jumping into conclusions.
We know that the lack of sleep is related to many health issues like skin ageing and heart health, but there is also evidence that its related to higher rates in breast cancer.
Light cause disruption of our circadian rhythm (our biological clock). Staring at smartphones is one of the many ways light interferes with the body’s rest patterns but we tend to keep doing it. A study published earlier this year, showed how humans living underground can end up sleeping for days. This is a kind reminder that we need to avoid light as much as we can to sleep well.
So next time you go to bed, try to keep yourself away from electronic devices for at least an hour before sleep. Also, remember to change your sleep environment, the darker the better.