The way you brush your teeth before bed is destroying your sleep. Yes, it’s true. Keep reading to find out how.
So, brushing your teeth is destroying your sleep? Huh?
Do you feel like you have a perplexed look on your face like you want to eagerly deliver the 80’s TV sitcom Diff’rent Strokes TV show catchphrase, “Whatcha talkin bout Willis?”
Most people feel that way when they first learn the way they brush their teeth is causing them to:
* Have trouble falling asleep
* Toss & turn in the night
* Wake up feeling tired (even after 7 or 8 hours)
Sounds crazy, right?
But overwhelming scientific evidence now suggests this is true.
If you want to know why and how right now, if you want to bypass the medical and scientific background that explains it in detail, and you want to skip right to the answer, click here.
If you’d like to drag the suspense out a little more, kinda like a Game of Thrones storyline where you’re desperate to know how the story ends but you know the fun will be over once it does…then keep reading a little more.
Still with me?
Ok, let’s create some context.
THE PROBLEM WITH BLUE LIGHT
Scientists have increasingly been warning us of the dangers of nighttime exposure to artificial light.
An overwhelming body of new research has found that the harsh blue light emitted by high energy digital devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, TVs and household light bulbs plays havoc with your sleep and overall health.
Experts say that nighttime activities such as checking social media, watching TV, taking selfies, are increasingly linked to obesity.
That’s because the harsh blue light from high-energy devices prevents your body from naturally creating melatonin, the hormone that helps us sleep.
Scientists say artificial light, particularly blue light, fools the brain into thinking it’s still daytime. Therefore we do not create melatonin and we have trouble sleeping.
A recent study showed we adults now spend half of our waking hours on digital devices. Half!
And 90% of us use some type of electronic device at least an hour before bed.
The electronically-produced blue light is seriously contaminating your eyes.
It contaminates you every time you check your email, watch TV, use social media, play video games - even take photos.
You are potentially creating a ticking time bomb with your health.
I know it may sound crazy but the world’s top doctors say that too much of this brain-damaging blue light can cause eye fatigue, headaches, poor sleep, diabetes, obesity - even cancer.
So whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s or 70s, you’re in danger.
“Chronic exposure to artificial light at the wrong time of the evening is dangerous to your health,” clinical psychologist and sleep expert Dr. Michael J. Breus says.
“The disruption of healthy sleep cycles is linked to elevated risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other metabolic disorders, as well as to psychological stress and depression.”
Dr. Breus is just one of a growing number of scientists and sleep experts sounding the alarm.
Another is Harvard University’s Dr. Anne-Marie Chang.
Dr. Chang’s 2014 study found that people who used electronics before bed took longer to fall asleep, had less deep sleep, it took them longer to wake up the following morning and they reported feeling sleepier and lethargic when they finally did wake up.
“This can have adverse impacts on performance, health, and safety,” she said.
The news is even worse for the weight conscious, with research finding a direct link between poor sleep and obesity.
“The recent obesity epidemic has been accompanied by a parallel growth in chronic sleep deprivation,” said Dr. Sanjay Patel, Assistant Professor of Sleep Medicine at Case Western Reserve University.
Australian sleep specialist Dr. Richard Simon, MD, agrees.
“We’re getting less sleep than we used to and our levels of physical activity have plummeted,” he said.
“Add those features together, and we have the perfect model for obesity.”
CHILDREN ARE IN THE MOST DANGER
And, here’s the worst part, we may have unknowingly been threatening the health of our children because kids who use electronics haven’t yet developed natural protection in their eyes.
Dr. Dave Lee, from the Children’s Eye Center, says by the age of 17, children would have spent six years looking at digital devices.
Dr. Lee told Fox News: “As we get older, the lens in our eyes naturally gets a little bit more yellow. That acts as a natural filter for that blue light.
“But children have little or no yellowing to their lens so they don’t have that natural protection.”
ELECTRONIC GIANTS KNOW THE PROBLEM
Major electronics brands Apple and Samsung seemingly know how dangerous their products are for us.
Apple now has a “Night Shift” feature on its iPhones, which reduces the phone’s blue light exposure at nighttime.
Samsung has the “Twilight” version, which does the same.
And software “f.lux” can reduce the blue light exposure on your laptop by adjusting the display's color temperature to an amber tint when the sun sets.
These tactics are great at reducing your blue light exposure.
BUT….and it’s a big BUT:
None of these apps or settings help you block the artificial blue light emitted from your TV screen.
They don’t help you block the blue light emitted from light bulbs in your bathroom, kitchen and living room.
It doesn’t help you block the light from your bedside table lamp that you use to read at night.
You may think you’re doing the right thing by switching off electronics in the last hour before sleep. (Which you are).
But if you are still sitting in your living room with the lights on, you’re still being exposed to the blue light and your sleep will suffer.
If you’re still reading with a bedside lamp, you’re still being exposed to blue light and your sleep will suffer.
AND…if you’re still brushing your teeth in the bathroom before bed, you’re still staring into that bathroom light!
Has the penny dropped?
Yes, you guessed it.
Brushing your teeth at night in a bathroom light that’s emitting artificial blue light is disrupting your body’s melatonin production.
The bathroom light is stimulating your pituitary and pineal glands, which disrupts your melatonin production, which makes it harder for you to fall asleep.
It means you’re more likely to toss and turn in the night.
You’re more likely to spend LESS time in that deep, REM, restorative sleep.
That’s why you can still feel tired even after getting 7 or 8 hours sleep.
So…the way we brush our teeth at night is literally destroying our sleep.
THE (NOT SO) PERFECT SOLUTION
So, what do we do about this? How can we return to brushing our teeth at night knowing that we can sleep the way nature intended us to sleep? What’s the perfect nighttime routine?
Well, the perfect scenario is to switch off all electronics, switch off all the lights in the house, and sit in the dark.
Sitting in the dark once the sun goes down is literally the best option for ensuring you get a great night’s sleep.
BUT….are you really going to do that? Let’s face it. We live in 2017. We love our light at night. We love to watch Game of Thrones. We love to update social media. We love light at night!
So…what’s the next best thing we can do?
4 WAYS TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND SLEEP BETTER TONIGHT
- Download Nightshift (iPhone) or Twilight (Samsung) to reduce blue light on your phone
- Download the free software f.lux (computer)
- Replace lightbulbs with blue-blocking bulbs.
- Wear blue-light blocking glasses in the last hour before bed (especially when you’re brushing your teeth)
Wearing orange-tinted blue-light blocking glasses filters out the specific blue wavelengths of light shown to cause bad sleep.
It’s backed up by solid data.
A Swiss study of 13 teenage boys, published in The Journal of Adolescent Health, showed that when the boys donned orange-tinted glasses in the evening for a week, they felt “significantly more sleepy” than when they wore clear glasses.
And because kids are in most danger from the blue light, it’s important that kids wear kids-style blue-light blocking glasses.
Separate, independent studies at the University of Toledo in Ohio, University of Lavel in Quebec City, and the Corvalles Psychiatric Clinic in Oregon among others have backed up the findings.
Research conducted at the Corvallis Psychiatric Clinic in Oregon suggests wearing blue-light blocking glasses are an effective and inexpensive treatment for insomnia and sleep deprivation.
And could also prove an effective treatment of mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder.
“Anything that will decrease that blue light exposure at night will be helpful,” said Christopher Colwell, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“I know some gamers who swear by those orange-tinted goggles.”
Ultimately, Dr Breus said we all needed to seriously rethink our understanding of light and its effect on human health.
“We live in a culture where electricity and artificial light are everywhere: inexpensive and always available in seemingly endless supply.
“So it’s absolutely necessary that we stay educated and aware of all of light’s possible effects on our brains and our bodies.
“Only then can we minimize its dangers and risks to our health.”
Julia Rodriguez from Advanced Sleep Medicine Services in California says:
“Blue light blocking glasses block a significant amount of light, reducing the amount of time it takes for you to fall asleep at night.”
The National Sleep Foundation advises: Your body clock is affected by light, so turn off bright overhead lights and consider wearing a comfortable sleeping mask.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO NOW?
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