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Science

Sleeping In Rooms With Even a Little Light Can Increase Risk of Depression, Study Finds (iflscience.com) 177

Japanese researchers have found that even the slightest slither of light when trying to sleep could be linked to a heightened risk of depression, according to a new study published in The American Journal of Epidemiology. IFLScience reports: The reason behind this link is unclear, but the researchers believe it might be to do with the human circadian rhythm, the 24-hour cycle that tells us when to sleep and wake up, among other things, that is "programmed" by environmental factors. In the case of humans and many other creatures, light influences how much of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin is pumped into our bodies, meaning we feel awake when the Sun rises and get sleepy when the Sun sets. This system works like a charm when there's only sunlight, moonlight, and a campfire to think about. However, the modern world is beaming with almost constant exposure to artificial light. Light at night (LAN) in a bedroom -- even a flash of a digital clock or streetlight creeping in from a crack in the curtains -- could screw with our natural sleep/wake cycle. The team behind the recent study assessed the sleep of almost 900 elderly people with no signs of depression. They found that people who slept in a room with 5 lux of light or more at night showed a "significantly higher depression risk" than those who slept in a completely dark room. For perspective, a household room with its lights on is around 80 lux and 10 lux is a single candle from 0.3 meters (1 foot) away.
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Sleeping In Rooms With Even a Little Light Can Increase Risk of Depression, Study Finds

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  • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Monday March 12, 2018 @11:34PM (#56250567)

    For comparison in the other direction.

    • by piojo ( 995934 )

      Thanks, that's a helpful reference. That means dim status LEDs are probably okay, being much dimmer than moonlight.

      • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2018 @02:50AM (#56250965) Journal

        That means dim status LEDs are probably okay

        They're not OK. Really, it's worth the effort to try to cover them up as much as possible. Cultivate the best sleep you can and darkness is really good for sleep.

        • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2018 @04:34AM (#56251103)

          That means dim status LEDs are probably okay

          They're not OK. Really, it's worth the effort to try to cover them up as much as possible.

          It depends on the color. Red LEDs are best. Blue are the worst.

          Also, the best material to darken windows is aluminum foil. Put it on with furnace tape. Use small fragments of furnace tape to cover any pinholes.

          My bedroom has a red LED digital clock, angled so I have to lift my head to see it. Otherwise, it is pitch black even in the middle of the day.

          Sleeping well is a wise investment. It will help you be healthy and productive.

          • by dcollins117 ( 1267462 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2018 @06:23AM (#56251287)

            Also, the best material to darken windows is aluminum foil. Put it on with furnace tape. Use small fragments of furnace tape to cover any pinholes.

            It's also the best material to completely cover your head. Just use the same instructions.

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            A slightly easier option is IKEA "black-out" curtains and blinds. I also recommend a wake-up light for the mornings, that gently increases light levels before your alarm goes off.

          • by gnick ( 1211984 )

            ...the best material to darken windows is aluminum foil.

            Also best to wrap your alarm clock if it uses an LED display. As a bonus, it's like opening a gift every morning when the alarm goes off.

          • Hmm....doesn't most everyone go to sleep with the TV on?

            I can't really seem to fall asleep if a pitch black, quiet room...if it is quiet, my brain starts going and I can't sleep.

            These days, I do set my TV to turn off after an hour or so when I close my eyes to go to sleep.....but sometimes, if I wake up to pee, etc...I can't get back to sleep unless I turn it back on, put on timer and sleep again.

            • These days, I do set my TV to turn off after an hour or so when I close my eyes to go to sleep

              I do the same thing with music. For some reason (and I'm serious) German opera playing very softly puts me to sleep quick. Act II of Parsifal by Wagner is particularly effective. When those four notes from the "What is the grail?" motif play, it's like a hypnotist snapping his fingers and I'm out like a light. Certain records by ambient artists are also very good.

              There is something very special that happens in

            • by Anonymous Coward

              I'm not trying to convert (because I don't consider this a religion, and actually forgot what it was called), but this might help.

              https://www.dhamma.org/en-US/index

          • Your bedroom sounds like the basement from Silence Of The Lambs. "It puts the lotion in the basket or it gets the hose!"

          • Sleeping well is a wise investment. It will help you be healthy and productive.

            ...and waste 30 years of your life, on average. Time you will NEVER get back.

        • by piojo ( 995934 )

          That means dim status LEDs are probably okay

          They're not OK. Really, it's worth the effort to try to cover them up as much as possible. Cultivate the best sleep you can and darkness is really good for sleep.

          I think I'll hold off on adding a few more zeros to my already sub-0.01 lux bedroom until I see some science indicating that it makes a difference. The light is already below the perceptible threshold when my eyes are closed.

        • by nmb3000 ( 741169 )

          That means dim status LEDs are probably okay

          They're not OK. Really, it's worth the effort to try to cover them up as much as possible. Cultivate the best sleep you can and darkness is really good for sleep.

          Exactly. For anyone interested, try this experiment sometime:

          Look at your room at night as it is normally when you go to bed. Now cover the blinds with a dark sheet or blanket to remove most exterior light. Turn off or unplug any other light sources. Turn your alarm clock towards the wall, or put it face down to hide the light.

          Now turn off the lights and take another look at your room. It should surprise you how much darker it is, and, it should feel much more inviting and easier to fall asleep. The

          • by gnick ( 1211984 )

            It should surprise you how much darker it is, and, it should feel much more inviting and easier to fall asleep.

            I have an ex who couldn't sleep without cartoons on, so for years I fell asleep to American Dad or Family Guy. Once I got used to it, I noticed no difference between the sleep I got with light and noise and the sleep I got with dark and quiet. I realize that TFA asserts otherwise, but I think it's more about mental state than light level. The latter can affect the former. For me, as long as I stick to Trevor Noah->Pills->Shave->Shower->Weed->Teeth, I'll drift off just fine. Low levels of ligh

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2018 @07:57AM (#56251493)

      For comparison in the other direction.

      We need a unit that Slashdot readers can understand. How much lux does a burning Library of Congress put out from one furlong?

      • by ImprovOmega ( 744717 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2018 @12:32PM (#56252969)

        For comparison in the other direction.

        We need a unit that Slashdot readers can understand. How much lux does a burning Library of Congress put out from one furlong?

        Well, if we extrapolate from a burning candle flame taking up one square inch visible and outputting 12.5 lumens at the source, then take one of the library of congress buildings, say the Thomas Jefferson building which is roughly 500ft on a side and around 60ft tall... Then we assume that the 500*60 = 30,000 sq ft side is completely engulfed, which would be 4,320,000 square inches * 12.5 lumens/sq in. = 54,000,000 lumens at the source. Multiply by three buildings and we get a total output of 162,000,000 lumens,

        Now convert to lux via assumption that you are one furlong (660 ft) away, lux = 10.76391 * lumens / (4 * pi * r^2) = ~318 lux.

        TLDR: So a burning LoC puts out roughly 318 lux at one furlong.

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      To be precise, surfaces illuminated by the full moon will recieve 0.1 lux, or 0.1 lumens/m^2.

      The moon is very bright (candelas), but also quite small in the sky (steradians). This means that while is bright, its illuminating power measured in lux (candela-steradians/m^2) is quite modest.

  • If she is in bed and I leave the downstairs stairwell light on, on the other side of the house, she will get up and turn it off.
    When I am downstairs in my office, I come up everything is dark. I have a routine, of feeling the walls and getting to bed like a blind individual. Not that my bad eyes are very good anymore.
    Me, If I go to bed early, I turn her bedside lamp on and drop off to sleep.

    Just my 2 cents ;)
    • by uncqual ( 836337 )

      But when you step on the cat while stumbling around the dark bedroom I'll bet it wakes her up.

    • If she is in bed and I leave the downstairs stairwell light on, on the other side of the house, she will get up and turn it off.

      Well, we don't work for the electric company here, now do we?

    • Is "wife" that iPhone app that checks your wifei connectivity? I think I've heard of that.
    • I prefer it dark too - I claim to have 'thin eyelids'. I've come to this conclusion over many years, culminating in a holiday, where the curtains weren't thick enough to block the light of lightening some miles away. We'd just gone to bed and I'd know when the thunder crack was coming every time, whereas it made my wife 'jump' every single time.

      I find that if I'm tired enough, I can sleep in bright sunshine, but not for long (just enough to get from super-tired to normal-tired). This is contrary to when I w

  • by Anonymous Coward

    When I travel on an airliner I make sure I bring an eyeshade which blocks ALL light from my eyes when the eyeshade is in use.

    I recommend using an eyeshade to anyone who needs to sleep despite ambient light.

    It works !

    • As an old fart I endorse this. I've been using an eyeshade for several years now and it definitely helps.

      • by asylumx ( 881307 )
        I've tried them a couple of times and maybe I'm just not getting good quality but how do you get them to fit right without so much pressure on your eyelids?
  • I keep my room pitch black after having years of problems with sleep. Absolutely no electronics in the room helps as well; no tv, no cell, no charging watch, no digital clock. Only thing I have plugged in is a lamp.
  • can't take pics black hotel rooms and have to play with doors / windows to get some light but not full blast

    • Same. Pitch black rooms drive me crazy, I need a minimum of some light, maximum I can sleep in direct sunlight. The only thing that upsets my ability to sleep is complete darkness.
    • Where do you find those? I generally have to mess with the doors and windows to get it dark enough to sleep. Spare pillows along the bottom of the door, careful tweaking of the shades, etc.

  • When sleeping in a room with light pollution, I must cover my eyes (dark silk velvet works best) AND my forehead. Several friends polled do not notice any light leaking through their forehead. Do I have a hole in my head? Opinions regarding this phenomenon welcome. -arwen
    • I recommend against full-contact sports.

    • But when you cover your eye, most probably you don't cover the bridge nose arch properly, up and down. This is the same trick people use to "magically" see stuff when having a blindfold, either stage magician, or scammer (which is why when james randy tested those pretend people seeing with blindfold, he made sure to properly cover above the bridge nose arch and below so they could not peak either above or below). In your case the bit of light filtering is enough. But your forehead is utterly opaque, trust
  • cover those LEDs (Score:5, Informative)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Monday March 12, 2018 @11:58PM (#56250639) Journal

    Listen you guys, I'm telling you this because I love you all:

    If you have a computer or router or modem in your bedroom, cover the LEDs. It makes a huge difference. Get it nice and dark in there and you'll get the best sleep of your life. Turn the computer off, and if you've got one of those goofy gaming mice where the LED lights don't turn off when the computer goes down, cover it with a dark cloth.

    Also, get yourself the dimmest possible night light and put it in your bathroom (and in the hallway to the bathroom if necessary). When you get up to whiz, don't turn on the bright bathroom light. You want to stay as close to sleeping as you can without peeing in your pajamas.

    Those circadian rhythms don't play. If you mess with them, you will start to feel like shit. If you become in harmony with the cycles of light and dark, you will find happiness, or at least you'll feel good.

    Seriously. I'm not fucking around. I even want the haters and losers to take this advice. Cultivate your sleep. Sleep is your friend.

    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      If you have a computer or router or modem in your bedroom, cover the LEDs. It makes a huge difference. Get it nice and dark in there and you'll get the best sleep of your life. Turn the computer off, and if you've got one of those goofy gaming mice where the LED lights don't turn off when the computer goes down, cover it with a dark cloth.

      Easier said than done. I have a Motorola cable modem, as do a large swath of the American population, and while I have electrical tape over the front panel the back of the panel itself is not isolated from the rest of the casing, which is full of holes for ventilation. So even with the lights "covered" there is a cascade of light that comes through the back of the device, onto the walls and ceiling, from those same LEDs. I can't very well cover the whole modem up and block all the ventilation (and yes, I do

      • by Anonymous Coward

        They make eye masks for sleeping to simplify this process. :)

      • Easier said than done. I have a Motorola cable modem, as do a large swath of the American population, and while I have electrical tape over the front panel the back of the panel itself is not isolated from the rest of the casing, which is full of holes for ventilation. So even with the lights "covered" there is a cascade of light that comes through the back of the device, onto the walls and ceiling, from those same LEDs. I can't very well cover the whole modem up and block all the ventilation (and yes, I do

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I recently bought a VDSL modem/router by TP Link which has a button to turn all the LEDs off. It's a really nice touch and it makes me wonder why it's not more common.

      • by chihowa ( 366380 )

        It's not more common for the same reason that any manufacturer ever decides that using blinding blue LEDs for indicator lights are a good design choice. Who the fuck knows what that reason is?

    • That's a lot of work. We took the simpler solution and just don't have computers and networking hardware in the bedroom. One cell, on silent, face down so the status light doesn't disturb us is the limit of our technology in the bedroom. There for emergency and for a morning alarm, but that's it.

      I did have to tape over the status lights on a couple of things in another room down the hall, and that is fucking ridiculous. What jackass thought that bright blue, always-on LEDs were a good idea? When it's lighti

    • For once, we agree...Must be the lack of partisan politics. I knew civility was possible still.
  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Monday March 12, 2018 @11:59PM (#56250645)

    risk of depression vs risk of eaten by a grue

    • A can of Mace, a forty-five
      is all I'd need to stay alive
      but no weapon lies within my sight

      (Bill Watterson, A Nauseous Nocturne)

  • That's why I always pack black electrical tape on any trip. Those especially annoying little LEDs get a little bit, and it's easy to clean up afterwards. Same with new computers - they get a heavy dose of electical tape where the LEDs can't be disabled - for some reason, raw power of case LEDs seems to be major priority in case design.

    Ryan Fenton

    • I know this is Slashdot, but y'know, it's possible to have a room in the house that doesn't have a computer in it. Apologies to those with studio apartments. I'm glad those days are long gone.
  • Once DST is banished, all those people who can't figure out how to adjust their clocks twice per annum will probably kill themselves on the summer solstice because the sun is streaming in at 4:00 a.m.

    • Maybe we can design the skylights with that in mind! A special slot on the end with a mirror.

    • DST won't be banished. If we have any sense about it, DST will become the permanent setting. Lighter later is far better than lighter earlier.
      • So the increases in health problems, car accidents, and financial loss are all worth it because you get to play outside until 11pm?

        If we have any sense about it, we'll ship DST proponents to Alaska for a year so they can appreciate what "normal" feels like when they return.

        • Alaska is an extreme.

          Also, that's bunk. Those bad side-effects are from changing time twice a year. Not from sticking to one setting or the other.

          In Ohio, the latest it's ever light out is about 9:20pm. During DST, it is light out well before 6:30am most of the time. And when off DST, it makes no difference. It's still dark until nearly 8am even though it's also dark at about 5pm (during the worst/least-light part of the year), anyway. It would make no difference during that time period if it wasn't light u

  • I installed blackout roller shades in my bedroom. Took apart the smoke detector and put tape on the LED inside it.
    In the summer, light still comes trough the edges of the blackout roller shades so I have been thinking about a solution to avoid that, perhaps a some sort of rail they run in to get the last part.
    In the summer it doesn't get dark until 22:00 and gets light again at 05:00. And then there's the street lights out side.

    I don't understand how people can sleep in those bedrooms with large windows wit

  • For me, I moved all networking equipment out of my bedroom into a dedicated wiring closet. This reduced noise and eliminated light entirely. My desktop however is still in the bedroom. Others are suggestions electrical tape. That shit is nasty to peel off later. Also, it isn't the best at blocking light. I work in photography a lot, and we use gaffe tape on set. This stuff is more expensive but well worth the price to block out light. It is a rough matte texture rather than glossy. It doesn't stretch at all

    • by Mal-2 ( 675116 )

      The adhesive on gaffer tape will dry out and leave a horrible mess in a matter of months to a couple years. Gaffer tape is intended for temporary rigging only, and you will get undesirable results attempting to use it long-term for anything. It's not even good for covering up gaps in the covers of black instrument cases. In the short term it works fine, but in the long term it makes the problem considerably worse by falling off and leaving a crumbly white patch where it used to be. Exposure to heat greatly

    • They make opaque labels [amazon.com] expressly for the purpose of covering LEDs.
      • by Mal-2 ( 675116 )

        I find that really cheap electrical tape (dollar store stuff) is ideal for this. It's thin enough that some light leaks through, meaning you can tell the light is on by looking, but won't see it otherwise. I use it for the blue status LEDs that seem to be mandated by some sadistic standards organization for use on laptops and monitors. Better quality tape will work too, if you poke a pinhole through it first.

  • This makes perfect sense. Even if you are in a good mood and suddenly the light goes dim in a silent room you will start grtting dark feelings.
  • Some years ago I heard that shrinks were playing with the idea that there might be TWO circardian clocks, and that the manic/depressive cycles of bipolar disorder might be the beat between them if one of them didn't sync properly to the day/night cycle, but free-ran. (This could explain things like the wildly different length of different people's cycles and how depression can be alleviated TEMPORARILY {like for a few days} by shifting wakeup time forward a couple hours - though doing it repeatedly doesn't

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Every cell in your body has its own clock. The releases of melatonin helps keep them all in sync. Ignore what the shrinks say and listen to the scientists and biologists. You do have a worse mood if you're awake with larger levels of melatonin, but I don't think that's enough to cause bipolar. I have N24 and double-depression, so I have some personal experience in this area.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    the 3908089509845 lux blue led so popular with hardware manufacturers makes people batshit insane.

  • As a typical /. subscriber I have a particular difficulty in this respect. Because the sun shines out of my arse.

  • Sleep (Score:4, Informative)

    by tquasar ( 1405457 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2018 @04:40AM (#56251115)
    Darkness, darkness, be my pillow. I was a shift worker for years and had to try to sleep during the day. I warned my family I would be in a bad mood and to please forgive me. I put heavy dark curtains and pull down shades on the two windows. That helped but I could hear my sons playing and cars driving by so I wore earplugs. That helped. During the summer the room would get warm and I installed a window air conditioner. More noise. I slept for four hours then woke up. I still wear a sleep mask and sometime use earplugs at night. It;s one-thirty AM now .
  • > The team behind the recent study assessed the sleep of almost 900 elderly people with no signs of depression

  • We have a TV in our bedroom, and I can sleep just fine with it on if my wife is watching, but when it's off, it has a white LED status indicator that is on at the bottom, and that light drives me crazy -- thinking I might have to either remove it or tape it. My alarm clock drives me nuts, too, so I have to turn it away from me, and if my wife tries to read her kindle it often will wake me up even if it's not facing me.

    Anyway, I don't think it's all this that makes me depressed, I think it's my job in IT
    • Yes, people react to light differently. But, the light levels they describe are what I would consider "very bright" for sleeping; 10 lux is the minimum a corridor should be lit in an emergency, and relatively speaking brightness is logarithmic so 1 lux is half as "bright".

      Some tricks for me: we added a projector clock that sits on a dresser at the foot of the bed and projects on to the wall with faint, large digits to avoid looking at phones (or nightstand clocks) at night. We sleep with the bedroom door

    • Best advice I ever heeded was designating the bedroom for sleeping. No TV, no electronic device usage, not even book reading.

      If you're up, you go somewhere else. When you're tired, you go to bed. It really, really helps, both with the light issue but also with training your brain that this is where it turns off.

      When my wife and I were dating and living apart we had our own rules at our own places. It took her a bit to get used to my strict bedroom is (mostly) for sleeping rule, but when she did, she found t

  • The curtains in my bedroom are rubbish AND I have LEDs from a my smartphone and Bluetooth speaker (needed for white noise) bleeding light. I bought a bunch of surprisingly good eye masks from a 100 JPY shop (Seria) which keep out the light until the horribly early time I have to get up for my long daily commute.

  • Someone needs to clue hospitals in on this. I recently spent nine days inpatient because of complications after laparoscopic surgery for cancer. I was supposed to only be in for one night, but due to serious internal bleeding, ended up in for the nine days. This in turn made my normally high blood pressure very low, which caused me to pretty much be bed bound for most of the time. While I was allowed to sit up in a recliner chair, it required a nurse to help me do that. They alarmed both the bed and the cha
  • I know for myself I sleep just fine with a little "warm" 4200K light. Light does seem to affect me more in the mornings thou when it comes to waking up. It's really hard to wake up in a pitch black room even with the alarm clock going off. A bit of lighting then seems to help. I'm guessing for me a bit of light isn't a problem.

    • If I sleep during the day, light doesn't bother me. In fact, I sleep best during the day. At night, though, I need near complete darkness to sleep.

      Unfortunately, I need to interact with people who sleep at night. (Actual family and friends. Otherwise, telecommute-work for my employer's office in Australia.)

  • Just hug your waifu pillow over your face covering your eyes with it
  • Spent a large portion of my summer vacation in a cabin in Nova Scotia that had no electricity and no one around for miles. It was the absolute best, most restful sleep that I've ever, ever had. Pitch dark every night.

    Now that I think about it again, it's time to look for some good blackout curtains. Any recommendations?
  • Waking up in a pitch black room can be bad for your health too if your tripping over someone else's crap.

    Fortunately my spouse insists on lights being on in the closet and hallway despite me telling her for 10 years it is unhealthy.
    Will stop before I start to rant.
    Dark clean safe room = better health

  • by jdavidb ( 449077 )

    Light at night (LAN) in a bedroom

    Can we please not randomly replace phrases with TLAs, or at least if we do, can we please not use TLAs that have well-known already used meanings? How would it be if we abbreviated something new to "HIV"?

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.

Working...