Light: the secret to great sleep

Light: the secret to great sleep

 "Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth...light upon light..." - Holy Qur'an (24:35)
 "Among His signs are your sleep..." - Holy Qur'an (30:23)

The pivotal role of light to life is unquestionable. From photosynthesis to solar power, the significance of the largest star in our solar system cannot be overstated.

An emerging body of research is now shining more and more light on the role of light itself in establishing and maintaining our 24-hour body clocks - circadian rhythms - that determine so many of our internal systems and processes.

Adenosine, melatonin and cortisol, to name a few, are a handful of the crucial chemical and hormones that are involved in regulating our highly synchronised existences.

We can all struggle with sleep at some point. The effects can be dramatic and deleterious. It's perhaps no surprise that since ancient times sleep deprivation has been used as a potent tool of torture.

It is now increasingly evident that one of the biggest optimisations available to us is not through supplements or diets, but through improving our sleep.

We've also all probably realised that thinking oneself to sleep is a nigh on impossible task fraught with frustration. (The same applies to periods of anxiety and low mood - talking oneself out of these states is tricky).

This is where the ability to "hack" our systems by using our bodies is profoundly useful. Our bodies provide a direct route into some of these hard-wired systems.

Exposure to natural sunlight for 2 to 10 minutes as early in the morning as possible has been shown to confer a wonderfully powerful "anchor point" to our bodies and can significantly contribute to more wakefulness and better sleep respectively. It doesn't even have to be a sunny day. (On that note, light through a window is nowhere near as effective - download a light meter on your phone and compare the two for yourselves).

Conversely, minimising exposure to overhead lights, bright lights and blue light in the evenings provides a second "anchor point" to double down on the benefits.

So give it a go, step out into the sunlight tomorrow morning, bask in Allah's glory and be grateful for the beautifully nuanced yet unseen systems that allow us to serve the Almighty.

Light: the secret to great sleep