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Many articles on the internet write about melatonin and its effects, making you tired. A lot of articles also point out how the use of devices before going to bed in modern days likely decrease melatonin production. Therefore, making it harder to fall asleep. But this information is only about the process of getting to sleep, before we are actually sleeping.

A recent Harvard Medical article 1 states:

High exposure to bright, artificial outdoor lights during the night may result in sleepless nights for older adults.

Referring to a publication on Nov. 15, 2018, in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

Considering that:

  1. many people nowadays, use their mobile devices in bed prior to going to sleep;
  2. modern cities or houses have (street) lights that are always enabled at night;
  3. ignoring the phase of falling sleep;
  4. focusing only on the time we are asleep already, so during the actual sleep cycles.

Does a darker room with less or no (artificial) light pollution improve sleep quality, with all associated health benefits as a result? In other words: Does light pollution, while asleep decrease the sleep quality or does light pollution only negatively affect the phase of “falling asleep”?

I wasn't able to find any studies or information regarding sleep quality in relation to light pollution during sleep. Were such studies performed? Are there specific moments when light pollution affects sleep quality the most, for example during REM-sleep or in a specific sleeping phase?


1 https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/study-light-pollution-may-trigger-insomnia

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    Interesting question. Have you done any research on it? What did you find? – Carey Gregory Sep 3 at 3:54
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    If an older person is in a hospital or nursing home then they may not have control of the surrounding light, though the blinds, curtains are usually drawn at night. So their environment may not darken after 8pm, there is a certain amount of light at night in the hallways and the rooms in these institutions. – Gordon Sep 3 at 12:53
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    Here is an interesting article: Artificial Light during sleep. Linked to Obesity, NIH. nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/… I once read a book by a sleep specialist that we should begin to wind down after 8pm, darken the lights a bit etc. so our day should be day, and our nights real nights. But again with older people there is a risk of falling at night on the way to the bathroom and breaking a hip, so they may at least need small night lights. – Gordon Sep 3 at 13:22
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    @Gordon That constant light is believed to be part of why we see a dramatic increase in delirium for elderly patients in the hospital. We have protocols to sit them by windows during the day to improve their circadian rhythm within the relative darkness at night. – DoctorWhom Sep 4 at 22:41
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    Eyelids do not block 100% of photons. The suprachiasmatic nucleus reacts to even little bits of light. Can't do a lit review at the moment, but that's where to find the answers – DoctorWhom Sep 4 at 22:51

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