I’m learning so much about how I’ve virtually destroyed my immune system, suffer from sleep problems, eating all the wrong fats, excited my body with carbohydrates for far too long, and basically broke my circadian rhythm.
For a very long time I’ve slept with the TV on. It wasn’t important that I watch it, but just that there was something on to occupy my brain. My brain was always so active that if I tried to sleep without the TV on, I would stay awake thinking all night long. It’s almost like I had ADD at night.
All the light emitted from the TV was only part of the reason my circadian rhythm broke. The other factor was sleeping with a light on. I am a sleep walker, and without having some sort of light on, and if something was on the floor (Dom’s famous for moving furniture or dropping things in the middle of the floor and leaving them there) I could trip and fall. When I sleep walk, my eyes are open, but I’m in an active dream state where I don’t see what’s in front of me; Whatever my dream dictates is what I see, but my unconscious mind understands where furniture is supposed to be, and that’s incorporated into my dream state. I’m weird, I know.
Anyway, I’ve been like this for the longest time. The first time I had a major accident was when I was four months pregnant with my daughter Hannah. In my dream, I thought I heard my daughter Gina crying, so I got up in my sleep to check on her. Yes, I was sleeping at the time and no, she wasn’t really awake. It was dark in the house, and I tripped over the phone wire, falling and hitting my face right at the bridge of my nose. I sustained a massive concussion, throwing up, being dizzy, and wanting to sleep. I called the ambulance, they took me to the hospital. I couldn’t have any x-rays done since I was pregnant, so instead, with a massive headache and nausea they put me in restraints for a few hours. I thought it was barbaric. They said they needed to do it just in case I had seizures, and might fall out of the bed injuring myself and the baby. Barbaric I tell ya! After not seizing during their observation, the restraints were removed. I was in the hospital for a week.
After that experience, I never again slept without a light on. I now had anxiety about sleeping in absolute darkness. My mind would race, and I wouldn’t get sleep. The TV was a good way to drown out my thoughts and allow me to fall asleep.
Over the years, I thought I was a night owl. I would stay awake until at least 2-3:00am, working on projects or just watch TV because I couldn’t fall asleep. For a while I even had insomnia. I had no idea all of this was due to not winding down the evening. In our modern electronic world, we have lights on all the time. At night when its naturally dark outside, we have artificial light flooding and saturating the rooms of our home. The TV is flickering, the electric clocks are glowing, devices like a DVD player are glowing softly.
With all this light at night, my circadian rhythm never had a chance to go through its nightly routine. It turns out that as the sun goes down, food consumption should really come to a halt, lights should dimmed or even not turned on as we prepare for going to bed. Since there can still be unavoidable light present as we go to sleep, a night mask may be necessary to create absolute darkness. I knew that circadian rhythms can be disrupted by graveyard shifts and insomnia, but I didn’t know that light also affects it.
Even the flash of a light, or a light turned on for a minute or two can disrupt the production of melatonin for the night. I wonder how many years I’ve been trying to sleep without it! Is it any wonder that my sleep is disrupted or that I may suffer from bouts of insomnia?
In some of my research, I’ve discovered that a red light at night (night light or flash light) can be used without disturbing the production of melatonin. How cool is that?
I was a little worried about how I would offset my issues of needing a light on at night. Hunters sometimes use a red light when hunting at night since it doesn’t disturb the animals, and it’s easy on human eyes too.
- Eat the last meal of the day before sunset
- purchase red bulbs for a night light. If I can find a motion sensor night light, even better!
- Fire my computer, which doubles as a TV right now, and put it out in the living room
- Purchase eye masks- I’ve seen them at the dollar store, but since we are still moving away from plastic products, I wanted either all 100% organic cotton or 100% silk. I found silk sleeping masks at a good price, and we’ll be ordering them also in a few weeks.
Resetting my circadian rhythm will also help my hypothalamus and leptin sensitivity.