Do you fall asleep with the TV on? Stay up too late on your phone? Cringe when your alarm says “Set for 5 hours and 15 minutes from now”?

While you may regret trading an hour of sleep for screen time, new research reveals the effects go deeper than feeling fatigued.

Using artificial lighting too close to bed can trigger damage to our brains and overall health. Here’s why it’s important to turn off the lights and stick to your sleep schedule…

Melatonin and Cortisol

While we sleep, our bodies produce Melatonin – a hormone made in the brain that helps control your sleep cycle.

Cortisol is a hormone that helps your body manage stress.

If your brain produces the proper amount of Melatonin, your Cortisol levels will remain low. When Cortisol is low, it allows your body to sleep. During the day, Cortisol levels rise to stabilize your immune system and energy levels.

Artificial lighting raises the amount of Cortisol in our bodies, heightening stress during sleep and opening the door to a host of health issues:

Weight gain

Excess body fat


Lowered immunity to infection

Insulin resistance

Insomnia and restlessness

Heart problems

Natural Vs. Artificial Light

Our bodies are meant to wake with the sun and sleep with the moon – a natural sleep schedule. Keeping an artificial light on during sleep can suppress Melatonin production by more than 50 percent. Staring at the blue light from your smartphone or tablet before bed can really wake up your brain. Limit your usage of these artificial light sources before sleep:

Cell phone




Bright lamps

Bright ceiling lights

Sleeping in complete darkness is the best way to balance your body’s hormones and stay away from the health issues listed above. If you are viewing a bright screen close to bedtime, be sure to dim the brightness level…and turn it off a few minutes before you close your eyes to sleep. You’ll fall asleep faster and wake up feeling rested. Your body will thank you now and later down the road.