Optimal sleep is arguably THE SINGLE BIGGEST LEVER of peak human performance. So why would one ever not take the time to master this area we spend a ⅓ of our lives experiencing?
Scientists and researchers today are just now beginning to understand the complexity of sleep. As such an important aspect of human health and physical optimization, I’ve devoted my entire life to researching and mastering the topic to better understanding it.
One of the factors that affects your sleep optimization is "light". It plays a huge role in providing you the best sleep you will ever have.
LIGHT IN BEDROOM
This nutrient, yes that's right I said it, "nutrient," is so important, I wrote an entire book on the topic. Did you know your skin cells have light receptors on them? Artificial light hitting your skin can impact the circadian rhythm and the body's ability to produce hormones and entirely drop into sleep.
Weight gain and disease are also being shown with light exposure during sleep. You don't want your body exposed to light while sleeping.
Concerning sleep, you must make the room dark to the point that your low light adjusted eyes cannot see your hands in front of your face. The amount of light generated from street lights, buildings, and artificial light sources in a house can be substantially more intense than the moon and stars hundreds of thousands of miles away.
Artificial blue light has barely been around for 150 years. Before that, humankind mostly experienced fire and some form of red hues for 100s of thousands of years. Depending on who you talk with, anthropologists say fire was discovered between 1.2M - 200,000 years ago. In either case, that's a massive discrepancy in comparison to artificial light. How long we've had to evolve to adapt to this new light biologically is non-existent, and it's making a significant impact on societies sleep hygiene. Consider blue blocker glasses at night after sunset and consider changing out blue bulbs for red.
I found blackout blinds from Bed Bath and Beyond that work exceptionally well and are relatively inexpensive (shopped around Amazon, Google Shopping), $200-$300 to completely blackout my loft. Get a reliable handyman who can install a dowel (think of how your closet hangers sit) across the top of your window/wall and get that area blacked out. There's something powerful about sleeping in total darkness that our bodies experience that allows them to feel safe and drift even deeper into sleep.
As the sun sets, spectrums shift more towards red and away from ultraviolet, violet, and green. Humans discovered fire anywhere from 200,000 years to 1.7M years ago.
Removing blue and green spectrums of light. I utilize smart bulbs where I can control the color and change my lighting to match hues of the outside, ultimately post-sunset only red hues close to color from fire. Blue blockers are a valuable tool to implement this further as we're often limited in controlling lighting on our screens (TVs, laptops, iPads, phones) or in restaurants and other establishments.
Full disclosure: I'm a big fan of RaOptics Founder Matt Maruca has done an excellent job making lenses that specifically block these frequencies of light while sitting in stylish frames you can wear out. Use code "karnivore" at checkout for 10% off if you decide to pick up a pair.
Either way, make an effort to limit blue and red spectrums from hitting your retina and suprachiasmatic nucleus. By limiting exposure to blue and green light spectrums after sunset, you will be avoiding the confusing signal being sent to the human that the sun is still up.
Our bodies did not evolve to experience the volume and intensity of artificial blue/green light we now have in society late into our evenings. Remember, we evolved with the stars and fire over the last several hundreds of thousands of years. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb 150 years ago. These spectrums confuse our biology and suppress its ability to produce sleep onset signals and sleep much deeper naturally.
Recently heading into spring and summer, I've been experimenting with using very dim red lights and altogether avoiding large screens TVs, Laptops after sunset. The sun is setting around 8, and I don't turn any lights on after dusk. (Except a 10-watt red bulb in the master bathroom when making final preparations right before sleep to see)
Depending on your home's window situation, this may not be practical. But I have noticed a significant increase in sleep pressure, quality, and ability to easily fall asleep quickly when doing this compared with watching TV or staring at a computer screen and having even moderate amounts of red lights on post dusk.
When I do this, I am yawning quite strongly around 90 mins post-sunset.
During that time activities, I have found quite rewarding that can still be done include:
Listening to an audiobook/podcast
Streaming show at minimal brightness off my iPhone (smaller screen)
Stretching, foam rolling, opening my body up.
In cases where you MUST be on your computer or larger screen, I will turn the brightness settings down - I'll also dial in the f.lux setting to a very red hue, night mode to contrast text as white against darker backgrounds and make sure I am wearing a pair of blue blocker glasses.
Additionally, below is my video on "How to Optimize this Nutrient for Energy and Sleep!"