This Is The Effect Lighter Nights Will Have On Your Sleep

Lighter nights are here but what should we expect?

We got through it! While we’re still in the season of winter, the long dark days are behind us, treating us to brighter mornings and longer evenings. Finally.

It was a slog.

However, just as clocks going back can impact our health, so can clocks going forward.

Yes, whether you’re more of a winter baby or annually find yourself thirsting for the warm rays of the sun, the brighter days ahead promise to improve our mental health and wellbeing.

I don’t know about you but this feels long overdue.

How lighter evenings improve your physical and mental health

Max Kirsten, Resident Sleep Expert for Panda London revealed the health benefits we can expect in the coming months:

Improved circadian rhythm

Kirsten said that our increased exposure to natural light throughout the day will help to regulate our circadian rhythm, the internal clock that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. He added that when we are exposed to daylight, especially first thing in the morning, it signals to our bodies that now is the time to be awake and alert.

As our nights get lighter, it becomes easier for our bodies to synchronise with the natural day-night cycle, promoting better sleep patterns, leading to consistent sleep schedules and improved sleep quality.

Increase in melatonin production

Melatonin is a hormone that helps to regulate sleep-wake cycles. If we’re exposed to natural light throughout the day but especially in the morning, our melatonin production is suppressed, ensuring that we feel alert and awake.,

Kirsten added: “Conversely, as the day transitions into night and natural light diminishes, our bodies start to produce more melatonin, signalling that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep.”

This means that lighter nights can help facilitate this natural increase in melatonin production, making it easier for us to fall asleep and achieve better quality sleep.

Improved mood and energy levels

If you’ve been feeling a little more withdrawn and tired over winter, this is completely normal but in the coming months, thanks to exposure to daylight, you can expect increases in energy and improvements in your overall mood.

As nights get lighter, people tend to spend more time outdoors and this exposure to natural light can boost mood and energy levels, making a consistent sleep cycle easier to maintain.

Enhanced vitamin D production

The sun is a primary source of vitamin D which is essential for many bodily functions but particularly sleep. According to Kirsten, adequate vitamin D levels have been associated with better sleep quality and overall well being.

The lighter nights ahead provide more opportunities for enjoying the outdoors and sunshine, contributing to optimal vitamin D levels and, in turn, a better sleep.

Reduced Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) symptoms

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that typically occurs during the fall and winter months when daylight hours are shorter. If you experience this condition, you likely rely on light therapy to get you through dark days.

Thankfully, lighter nights in spring and summer months can help with alleviating these symptoms by providing more natural sunlight exposure, which can improve mood and overall mental health.

To benefit from these, ensure that you’re exposing yourself to the outdoors and sunshine

Kirsten said: “Overall, lighter nights can positively impact our sleep and daytime routines by helping regulate our circadian rhythm, promoting the production of sleep-promoting hormones like melatonin, boosting mood and energy levels, enhancing vitamin D production, and reducing symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.”

However, Kirsten adds, it’s essential to maintain a balanced approach to light exposure, ensuring adequate exposure during the day while minimising exposure to artificial light, particularly blue light, in the evening to promote optimal sleep quality.