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Old 04-08-2006, 12:18 PM   #1
Joe Miller
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Location: Boston  MA
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Hello, this question has been approached on the board before but never really explored (at least not that I could find by searching)-

I haven't read "Lights Out" but have heard it praised, along with the idea that we should sleep in a totally dark room at night. Well, my wife isn't about to let me duct tape blankets over our bedroom windows, or whatever other crazy things I've read people doing on these boards. (I mean "crazy" in the best possible way.) In fact, we have windows that are WIDE open to the light, both the sunlight pouring directly in on me at sunrise, and the glow of streetlights all night long.

I have absolutely no trouble sleeping through this -- that's not the point. (Sometimes at sunrise the bright light will wake me briefly, but if I don't have to get up right then I can easily fall back asleep.) The point is that I've read that sleeping in the dark provides some hormonal/health benefits. What I'm wondering is whether getting a sleep-mask would help achieve any of those benefits? Or would the sunlight (and night-time light) on my skin prevent me from getting any benefits from a sleep-mask?

Again, I sleep fine right now, but covering our windows is not going to be an option.

(For what it's worth, and unrelated, I've slept in pitch black rooms before. I always seem to sleep extraordinarily well, but I also always seem to sleep for 10 or 11+ hours. Anyone have an explanation of that?)

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Old 04-08-2006, 12:30 PM   #2
Greg Battaglia
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Location: Springfield  PA
Posts: 468
Joe, I only wish that it was as easy as putting on a mask and getting the full benefit, but unfortunately it's not. In Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival the authors make it pretty clear that the sight of light AND the actual effect of light touching the skin will inhibit melatonin release, therefore causing an unfavorable hormonal response. I believe they referenced a study in which test subject who were sleeping in a completely dark room had a very small laser the size of a pencil point aimed at their skin saw a reduction in melatonin levels. So it seems that even the smallest amount of light can disrupt sleep. What I personally do is just put my blinds down, close my bedroom door, and put the covers over my head to block out light. This works great and I sleep very well. If you're sleeping well now I don't see much of a reason to put any more effort into blocking out light.
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Old 04-08-2006, 02:03 PM   #3
Peter Queen
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Location: Dousman  WI
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Joe, Greg:
during my weekend afternoon naps,whenever I can sneak one in, I wear a sleep mask, hooded sweatshirt and earplugs. Nothing puts me in a deeper sleep faster than this. I put a digital egg timer by my head so that I can hear it when it goes off. Thus my naps are timed. Funny, my life is so busy at times that I even have to schedule timed appointments for my naps. But when I wake I feel a whole lot better and re-energized. It's sort of like combat naps. I never knew there were so many issues concerning sunlight or light in general even in the home during the sleep cycle but I wear the hood because it's gives a more snuggly feel. Yeah that's right....I'm a big baby. But hey, whatever works, right? You could try darker shades. At least that way they will be more fashionable than duct-taped blankets.:happy:
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Old 04-08-2006, 02:56 PM   #4
Robert Wolf
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Location: Chico  CA
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A sleep mask helps but Like Greg said there does appear to be some benefit to the completely dark room. To paraphrase a line from Lights Out: "Get as much sleep in a completely dark room as possible without getting fired or divorced...".

As with all this stuff the information is there to tinker with, not to make lfe un-livable!

You can get Lights Out from amazon for like $2! It is a must read IMO.
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Old 04-11-2006, 09:15 AM   #5
Nathan Stanley
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Location: Redmond  OR
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I have a habit of sleeping w/ a fan on for white noise. I don't seem to have problems sleeping w/out one when I'm traveling, but I always feel better w/ some white noise. Is there any problems w/ this or is it fine. I also have mild tinitus (Sp?) so I think the fan helps w/ the ringing in my ears.
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