Light Pollution Is Wrecking Your Sleep Quality

It's not called "the city that never sleeps" for nothing.

March 3, 2016
woman sleeping with light on

If your neighborhood is filled with powerful streetlights, lit-up signs, and neighbors whose porch lights run overnight, chances are your sleep is taking a direct hit. 

According to new research, which will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 68th Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada in April, "the city that never sleeps" should be taken quite literally. 


More: How the Most Common Sleep Positions Affect Your Health

Illumination from the outdoors directly inhibits your ability to sleep and drastically decreases the quality of your snooze session. People who live in urban areas that have nighttime lights are 13 percent more likely to experience sleep inefficiency and report higher levels of fatigue and less time spent sleeping. 

"Your skin has photo receptors that pick up light, and and our brains actually have different areas that pick up light through other parts of the body like your ears," explains Shawn Stevenson, sleep expert and author of Sleep Smarter. "An eye mask is not necessarily going to cut it. You need to sleep in total darkness to get a good night's sleep."

More: How the Big 'O' Impacts Your Sleep

The solution, Stevenson says, is to invest in a great set of blackout curtains that'll help block out all exterior light, whether you live in a city or rural area, to help minimize the harsh effects of a bad night's sleep. 

"Light pollution can disrupt the sleep onset, so even falling asleep in the first place becomes harder," Stevenson adds. "It can make you wake after sleep onset, pulls you out of your sleep cycle, and can increase daytime sleepiness."


So the key to avoiding the harsh effects of a bad night's sleep could lie in the quick elimination of any, and all, outdoor lights. 

Sleep Smarter