JUL 07, 2016 8:39 AM PDT

Why Exposure to Light Really Messes Up Your Sleep

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Some people prefer being awake at the crack of dawn, and some people love to burn the midnight oil. But whether you are a lark (morning person) or an owl (nighttime lover), it may surprise you to know that we are all affected by light and dark in similar ways.

All animals have a built-in circadian rhythm - a biological cycle that responds to environmental stimuli. One of the most important cues that affects the circadian rhythm is daylight. Light stimulates the release of hormones and metabolites that makes us more alert and reactive, increasing our energy and muscle strength. By contrast, darkness stimulates hormones, such as melatonin, that makes us tired and sleepy.

Given that we know exposure to light and dark truly affects our internal systems, it's alarming to think of how many brightly lit gadgets we now use before trying to fall asleep. Thus, if you feel groggy or unrested in the morning, your blue phone screen the night before may be to blame.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
JAN 23, 2020
Earth & The Environment
JAN 23, 2020
Scientists Assess the Value of the Ocean's Twilight Zone
Fifteen years ago, an international cohort of scientists and policy experts introduced the idea of assessing ecosystems by the "services" they pr...
JAN 27, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 27, 2020
This Octopus Emerges From the Water in Search of Food
Most octopuses live and breathe underwater, just like the vast majority of other marine animals. But this octopus endemic to Australia has a special abilit...
FEB 02, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 02, 2020
Everything You Need to Know About Solar Orbiter
The Sun is something you see every day when you look up at the daytime sky, but despite residing right in plain sight, there’s still so much about th...
FEB 20, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
FEB 20, 2020
Methane-fueled Commerical Production of Biodegradable Plastics in Sight
Plastics, the petroleum-based, very poorly degradable polymers, make up almost everything in our society from water bottles, food packing, disposable utens...
MAR 10, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAR 10, 2020
How Much Do You Know About Fleas?
If you have any furry pets at home, such as cats or dogs, then you may have had to deal with fleas at one time or another. Fleas are incredibly irritating...
MAR 30, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 30, 2020
If Gravity Has Mass, This Could Explain Dark Energy
The Big Bang purportedly transpired 13.8 billion years ago, and even so, the universe continues to expand even today. But if that thought alone wasn’...
Loading Comments...