I've been having a lot of trouble sleeping well lately to the point where I had been contemplating taking drugs (melatonin). I work a schedule that has me doing two weeks of nights every seven weeks. Up until now I've been blaming my poor sleep on my night shifts and the difficulty I have adjusting from them but I have recently learned some interesting facts that shed more light on the matter; literally!
You see I pretty much work in the dark all the time. I sit in front of 10 monitors all day which do provide a bit of light but we keep the main room lights off which really keeps things pretty dim. Now what I've learned recently is that melatonin, the hormone we use to induce sleep, gets produced in the dark. So in a natural setting, before artificial lighting, humans would begin to tire after the sun went down and likely within a couple of hours they would fall asleep. We can only produce so much of this hormone at a time. So here I've been sitting in the dark all day likely producing all of it and then wondering why I have trouble sleeping when I get home!
So yesterday I tried keeping the main room lights on at work most of the day. Then when the sun went down I went into my room, kept the lights off, and just sat there listening to music for awhile. Sure enough, within a couple hours I fell asleep. And I had the best sleep I've had for as long as I can remember! I was in my bed for 13.5 hours and I think I slept at least 11 of those. Today I feel awesome!
Up until now even when I thought I was getting a good nights sleep I was only maxing out at roughly 8hrs tops. I couldn't understand how some folks were getting 10-12 consistantly as is recommended around here. Well I'm excited and feel that I may have found the key ... maintaining balance of light and darkness.
Oh and one more thing. Apparently it is blue light that keeps us from producing melatonin. And unfortunately that comes from computers as well; so sitting in the dark on 30 bad before bed is out. Apparently fire is okay, so candles are in .... I think my wife might like that =)