Streetlights May Be Giving You Sleepless Nights

You may already know the importance of shutting off lights and powering down devices if you want deep, uninterrupted sleep. But what you may not know is that the light outside your home could be just as bad for your rest.

The streetlights that are so helpful when you’re walking along a dark road at night can disrupt your sleep patterns, according to a study released this week from the American Academy of Neurology.

“We live in a 24/7 society, and outdoor lighting helps us be safer at night, but it comes with a tradeoff,” Dr. Maurice Ohayon, a Stanford University sleep scientist who authored the study, told The Huffington Post. “That fact that we encounter less darkness as we go about our day may be affecting our sleep.”

Researchers interviewed more than 15,000 people over the course of eight years about their sleep quality and bedtime habits, then cross-referenced participants’ reports with data from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program to determine how much outdoor light they were exposed to at night.

The nighttime environment of people in urban areas was three to six times brighter than that of people in small towns and rural areas, scientists found. And residents of bright areas were more likely than those in low-light areas to sleep less than six hours per night, be dissatisfied with their rest and report fatigue.

Light is the most powerful cue for our circadian clocks, our roughly 24-hour sleep-wake cycles, according to Harvard University neuroscientist Anne-Marie Chang. Its presence suppresses the hormone melatonin, which induces sleep.

The worst offenders, according to Ohayon, are the new generation of LED streetlights. They give off a bluish light and are brighter than traditional sodium-vapor streetlights, which have an orange tint.

“The blue light emanated by the streetlights in most —> Read More