HOW TO GET THE RIGHT KIND OF LIGHT EXPOSURE
Before electric lights, human beings were more in sync with the natural rhythms of the sun. We worked when it was light and slept when it was dark. Today, we can work whenever and sleep whenever. For most of us—and especially those in northern climates—we may spend most of our waking day inside under artificial light. Meanwhile our devices have us in a constant state of what we call “lightedness.”
Ideally, you’d get a face full of sunlight first thing in the morning, plus exposure to the sun multiple times during the day. At night you’d be done with screens 1–2 hours before bed and sleep in a completely dark bedroom.
But that kind of relationship with light is rare. The best we can do is to maximize the natural light we get and mitigate the times when we get too much artificial light. The key is to be intentional about your light exposure, especially first thing in the morning and before bed.
When you get up in the morning take 15–20 minutes to expose yourself to full sun. Have breakfast while sitting near a window. Or, if your family has a sleep therapy wake-up light, use it to spend time in good artificial light.
If you can, take part of your lunch break or recess outside for more light exposure. Take a walk around the schoolyard or your home for an extra exercise boost. Walk home from school if you live close. If you’re meeting friends on the weekend, walk around outside as you talk.
Switch your electronic devices to night mode or wear blue-light-blocking glasses to filter out the bad light. See how early in the evening you can get yourself into low, non-blue light.
If you get up in the middle of the night, don’t turn on any lights—it will scare away any melatonin your body is producing. Instead, work with your parents to equip the bedroom, hallways and bathrooms with low intensity, non-blue nightlights that safely light the floors.