Spending time amid the gaudy neon lights of Las Vegas is exciting and fun. But a new study shows you’re gambling with your health when you’re exposed to bright lights at night.
Scientists recently found that people who spend a lot of time under outdoor light at night are the ones who most often end up on dangerous insomnia medications.
The study was published in The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. It was conducted by Professor Kyoung-bok Min of South Korea’s University College of Medicine. The researchers analyzed data from an 11-year population-based cohort study. There were 52,027 subjects. All were over 60.1
The team mapped outdoor artificial light using satellite data. That allowed them to determine the amount of outdoor nighttime light each subject was exposed to.
They also looked at which subjects used the common insomnia drugs zolpidem (Ambien) and triazolam (Halcion). About 22% of the subjects were taking one of these.
The scientists found a direct correlation between nighttime light exposure and insomnia drug use. When subjects lived in areas that were brightly lit, they were more likely to have a prescription for a sleep medication. Dosages were higher as well in brighter areas.
“Our results are supportive data that outdoor artificial nighttime light could be linked to sleep deprivation,” said Professor Min.2 3
6 Natural Ways to Sleep Better Without Drugs
Prescription drugs are not a healthy way to treat insomnia. A 2017 study found that Ambien is linked to Alzheimer’s. Other side effects include hallucinations, confusion, nausea, dangerous falls, and headaches.4
If you have trouble sleeping, one of the first things to do, as the above study suggests, is to avoid bright artificial lights after dark. But that’s not always possible.
Here are some other approaches…
- Get more oxygen. A 2017 study found that subjects slept better when they left open a window or door to increase air flow in their bedroom. This lowered carbon dioxide and raised oxygen levels, improving sleep.5
- L-tryptophan. This amino acid helps your body produce serotonin, which increases relaxation. Great sources of L-tryptophan include organic poultry, fish, eggs, and beef. You can also get L-tryptophan supplements. Take 1,000 mg an hour before your bedtime.
- Daily exercise. Even a light workout during the day helps you sleep at night. But don’t exercise within three hours of bedtime.
- Avoid blue light after dark. A Harvard Medical School study found that using blue light-emitting devices like computers, tablets, and smartphones just before bedtime can wreck your sleep. Blue light suppresses melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone triggered by darkness that helps your body sleep.
When you use a device at night, be sure the “night shift” or “night light” setting is activated. It will reduce the amount of blue light the device emits.
- Stay on the same sleep schedule. Changing up your sleep schedule is disruptive to your body’s sense of when it’s time to rest.
- Keep it cool. Experts say the ideal temperature for sleeping is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.6
Using the sleep drugs Big Pharma pushes is like playing Russian roulette with your health. Natural solutions work just as well without dangerous side effects.