Sleep in Total Darkness to Stay Young and Lose the Bulges!

Are you afraid of the dark? It seems there’s a bigger reason not to keep the bedside lamps switched on while you sleep aside from being labeled a big scaredy cat. Apparently, some studies show that sleeping in TOTAL darkness not only promotes deeper and better sleep but in a way, slows down aging and prevents weight gain, too.

Thanks to the Big M
No, not money– we’re talking about Melatonin here, ladies. It’s that naturally-occurring hormone and anti-oxidant in our body that promotes cell health, self-regeneration and repair. That rings a big “ANTI-AGING” bell to me! It’s also responsible for maintaining the natural rhythm of our “body clock”. But the most interesting part is, Melatonin is only produced in the dark.

The power of Darkness
It seems that our bodies are more sensitive to light–and the lack of it– than we thought. Although the pineal gland, the pea-sized gland  which produces melatonin, is activated at a specific time (usually around 9 PM), melatonin is only produced in the dark. Thus, the cheesy nickname, “Dracula of Hormones”. So even simply leaving the TV on or your cellphone lighting up on your bedside table whenever you receive a text or a call while you’re asleep can disrupt melatonin production (source).

Sleeping with lights on can mess up your eating habits
Because healthy melatonin levels keep our body clocks in check, our eating and resting habits during the day are regularized, too. But when this body clock is disturbed,  as in the case of having low levels of melatonin in the blood, we tend to take irregular meals that mess up our metabolism rate.

“A study reveals that ‘Mice exposed to light at night gained 50 percent more weight than mice whose nights were truly dark, the study found, even though the two groups ate equal amounts of food and got the same amount of exercise.’ (source)”

Aside from the beauty benefits mentioned above, sleeping in the dark seems to also reduce the risks of developing breast cancer for women and of suffering from depression.

But what if you’re really afraid of the dark?
Personally, I don’t have problems sleeping in total darkness. In fact, I’m so sensitive to light that even the tiny green power light of the air-conditioner sometimes bothers me in my sleep! But I know not everyone is as much of a cave bat like me. So if you really can’t avoid having some lights switched on, choose those that are less harsh like red lamps (although they seem more creepy to me!). You can also wear sleeping masks and make sure to close the curtains unless you wake up before sunrise.

Now, are you still afraid of the dark?

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  • betchy

    hi there Vivi..i have also come across an article very much related to what you posted here that sleeping in the dark is better than having any lights on. I am not afraid in the dark myself but my daughter, who sleeps with me that leaves me to take the other option you mentioned which is wearing a sleeping mask. whoever wants to stay young will always have a way of getting those melatonin hormones go full throttle.

    • Vivi

      Probably you can use red light instead. :) I’ve tried sleeping masks before but I don’t feel comfortable wearing them so I think they might not be for everybody.
      Haha, I’m more than willing to live like a cave bat to stay younger longer. :p

  • Robin

    Awesome post! Have you ever read the book, Lights Out! Sleep, Sugar, and Survival by TS WIley? This book is amazing and covers some of the same topics you do in your post. People started getting fat when they were able to extend daylight by turning the lights on. We put black out curtains on our windows and cover up any other light in the room. It’s also important to go to bed by 9:00 like you said in the post for optimal melatonin production.
    Robin recently blogged..Hair Care Review: Nemua Shampoo, Conditioner, and Masque

    • Vivi

      Thanks, Robin! I haven’t read the book but I’ve read “about” it somewhere, haha. I’ll check it out again. :)

      My room is very, very dark at night. I think my eyelids are too thin so I get really bothered even by the slightest brightness unless I’m really dead tired.

  • Jasanna

    Wow! I didn’t know this. I’m a cave bat too! All windows must be closed and lights out! :) Now I have an even better reason to! :)

    • Vivi

      Great to know another cave bat! And hey, I’ve just visited your blog and it’s great! Love the recipes! :)

  • surille

    I have insomnia…but I’m learning that if possible, I should go to bed as soon as I feel very tired in the evening..But I make the mistake of staying up an extra hour or two because I want to read one more chapter, or I don’t want to miss a TV program or I check my email one last time…and of course I become agitated and can’t go to sleep. I also have blackout curtains and blinds….Just like you, I can’t stand ANY light…My neighbors sometimes turn on one of their outdoor lights that somehow manages to show though the curtains, and I can’t tell you how angery I get… as if it’s THEIR fault that my chances of sleep are ruined. But thanks for this tip….I know there are other factors that affect my skin, but I’ve always thought my lack of sleep played a major role in why I feel and look old for my age.

    • Vivi

      Yeah, I understand what you meant with “ANGER”. I feel the same way, too, when I see random lights (no matter how small!) flickering in my bedroom when I’m trying to sleep. I also have the bad habit of bringing my iphone/ipad to bed which wastes 1-2 more hours of my precious sleeping time… then I’ll wake up the next day cursing myself for it. But still, I’ll do the same thing later at night… it’s an endless cycle of self-induced insomnia for me.

  • betchy

    hey vivi,,i tried putting on a mask for the first time when I went back to sleep this morning which I normally do after having sent my daughter off to school. i’d usually have like 1 1/2 hours tops of sleep but this morning, I had a hefty baby sleep of 4 hours. how much melatonin could that have been and would it be if I am gonna do it on a regular basis??? I bet, awesome :)

    • Vivi

      That’s great to hear! However, melatonin is only produced from 9 PM – 9AM (or when the peneal gland is active which is usually at night). But definitely, melatonin or no melatonin, a good dose of afternoon nap is always good! Keeps one young. :)

  • ChuiShia

    hmmm…interesting facts….

    this may explain why I always look for haggard and put on more weight when I’m on holiday. I always sleep with some lights on in hotel rooms. strange place and all that.

    but at home, the tiniest bit of light from an alarm clock can and will keep me awake.

    • Vivi

      Yeah, when I went to Beijing last year, the hotel room was sooooo creepy that I had no choice but leave at least 3 lights on! I’d rather have not enough melatonin than see (or imagine) a creepy figure lurking in the dark. :0

  • Missy Lois

    Okay this is terrible terrible news for me. If there’s anything I won’t give up, it’s the night light when I sleep. And red light is just creepy. Maybe attempting to compensate by having a healthy lifestyle will work :p amazing and informative article vivi, it was fun reading it!
    Missy Lois recently blogged..Get up! Get fit! : Amore Fitness Review

    • Vivi

      Red light screams “Witchcraft!” and “Sadako!” to me. So yeah, I’d rather give it a miss. But if your sleep seems good–like you wake up in the morning feeling all refreshed–then maybe you don’t need total darkness as much as people like me who always look tired in the morning.

  • Swati

    I have also started sleeping in total darkness and yes, even a bit of light bothers me :)
    Swati recently blogged..Dealing With Heightened Sense Of Smell {Pregnancy}

    • Vivi

      I hope you find your sleep improving by sleeping in the dark. Some people really can’t because they get nightmares. :(

  • Amanda

    I would turn and have difficulty falling in sleep if the lamps are on. But one thing that is more important than sleeping in dark is sleeping early! I’m trying (again) to hit the sack by 11:30. Hopefully this won’t be another failure 😛
    Amanda recently blogged..10 Lessons I’ve Learnt From My Personal Makeover

    • Vivi

      YES!!! Everything seems to work perfectly for me when I sleep early. All my products do their magic. But when I sleep late or in irregular hours, everything falls apart.

  • Lanie

    2 years back, when my mother and I went to a fasting retreat as part of her natural breast cancer therapy, the organisers also ensured that we turn off all lights by 7pm, so that we are already sleeping by 9pm…

    apparently the production of melatonin (by our bodies) is at its peark from 9pm to 2am… and that if our eyes can detect even just a tiny speck of light, this process will be automatically shut off…. so it is really important to sleep in the dark between 9pm to 2am..
    Lanie recently blogged..Review: Fruit Home Delivery by KSY