I have to admit, I was not much of a believer in this until I tried it. It is sort of funny that from a physiologic aspect I could give you all the information on the virtues of this but I still was not 100% sold. What I am talking about is full blackout sleep. This means no light at all - not even a dimmed down LED number on the clock. Fortunately my clock will dim down to total balckout. A few weeks ago I put up the blackout curtains in my bedroom, well actually I put one up and got busy for a week or two before I put the other set on the second window. I have been sleeping in total blackout for a few weeks now and I can tell you that my sleep has benefitted dramatically.
So why does this work? First and foremost is the cortisol response. Cortisol is that wonderful hormone that you want to have surging in the body when you wake up but you really want very little when it is time for sleep. Light stimulates cortisol. Cortisol helps keep you awake and alert, a good thing in the morning. BTW coffee is a major stimulant of cortisol - if you need your coffee in the morning in order to get moving, you are probably deficient in morning cortisol. For me, I do not NEED it in the morning but I like to kindly refer to it as the elixir of life - I WANT it in the morning. So back on point. Anything that excites or frustrates you will also create problems with evening cortisol. This is why it is important to wind down, don't stress about the day, do something relaxing for about an hour before bed. This is also a wonderful time to meditate.
A word of warning because I know some of you are reading this on one of those bright computer monitors just before bed. Bad idea. The light from the bright computer screens not only elevate your cortisol but also plummet your melatonin levels - double wammy for a night of tossing and turning. The good news, if you can't give up your evening computer time there are programs out there that will dim your screen to match the time of day or light in the room.
Going to bed at a consistent time each night will also help, this helps to keep the melatonin secretion consistent. You will cripple your melatonin release by going to bed at different times each night. One option is to dissolve 3mg of melatonin under your tongue each night about 30 minutes before bed - this is if you cannot keep a regular schedule.
Something else that can help is some oxytocin release and we all know how to make that happen.
So give some of these idea a try, the blackout has made a world of difference for me. I really have had much improved sleep quality.