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Not sleeping well? It could be your street's fault

“The concern is that we have reduced our exposure to darkness and it could be affecting our sleep.”

Image: Shutterstock/Photographee.eu

A WELL-LIT NEIGHBOURHOOD can hamper sleep, a new study suggests.

The study, carried out at Stanford University, interviewed 15,000 over eight years about their sleep patterns.

With nighttime data from the Defence Meteorological Satellite Program, the researchers looked at how much outdoor light those people were exposed to at night. People living in urban areas of 500,000 people or more were exposed to nighttime lights that were three to six times more intense than people living in small towns and rural areas.

The study shows that nighttime light affects sleep duration and was significantly associated with sleep disturbances. People living in more intense light areas were six percent more likely to sleep less than six hours per night than people in less intense light areas.

“Our world has become a 24/7 society. We use outdoor lighting, such a street lights, to be more active at night and to increase our safety and security,” said study author Maurice Ohayon, MD, DSC, PhD, of Stanford

The concern is that we have reduced our exposure to darkness and it could be affecting our sleep.

People with high light exposure were also more likely to report fatigue than those with low light exposure, with 9% compared to 7%. People with high light exposure also slept less per night than those with low light exposure, with an average of 412 minutes per night compared to 402 minutes per night.

But there is a solution, Ohayon says.

“Light pollution can be found in any sizable city in the world. Yet, excessive exposure to light at night may affect how we function during the day and increase the risks of excessive sleepiness,” said Ohayon.

“If this association is confirmed by other studies, people may want to consider room darkening shades, sleep masks or other options to reduce their exposure.”

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