Are you one of those people who “can’t fall asleep” without the television on? Do you find it more comfortable to have a “night light” on? Well, thankfully, I am NOT that person and in fact, it makes me a little cranky if the room isn’t totally dark at night. I’m actually pretty excited about an article I read regarding sleeping in a dimly lit room because I’m usually the one doing the wrong thing!
The article published in Science Daily says that exposure to even moderate ambient lighting during sleep harms your cardiovascular function and increases your insulin resistance the following morning! It also said that even one single night of exposure to moderate room lighting can impair glucose and cardiovascular regulation, increasing your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
So, what can you do? The researchers recommend:
- Don’t turn lights on. If you need to have a light on (which older adults may want for safety), make it a dim light that is closer to the floor.
- Color is important. Amber or red/orange light is less stimulating for the brain. Don’t use white or blue light and keep it far away from the sleeping person
- Blackout shades or eye masks are good if you can’t control the outdoor light. Move your bed so the outdoor light isn’t shining on your face.
These are pretty simple steps to assist in improving your health but what about our residents? The next time you visit your midnight shift, make rounds (quietly) and assess resident rooms and lighting. Do your parking lot lights shine in windows where residents are sleeping? Are your staff turning on lights to provide care and not turning them back off? How do your safety lights work? Are they on continuously and illuminating resident rooms? Hmmm…..take a look, talk to your team and determine if there are things that you can do to improve the quality of your residents’ sleep! Stay the course, stay informed and be well!