Why You Should Start Brushing Your Teeth in the Dark

Want a better night's sleep? Try brushing your teeth in the dark says an Oxford neuroscientist. He claims that the bright fluorescent bathroom lights wake up the body, The Telegraph reports. So to fall asleep faster, he recommends brushing with them off.

"Often people will turn their lights down at night which helps to get the body ready for sleep, but then they will go and brush their teeth and turn their bathroom light on," Russell Foster, a professor of circadian neuroscience at Oxford University, said after a lecture in London. "That is very disrupting."

Why does it make a difference? Humans' natural clock, the circadian rhythm, is primarily influenced by light levels. That's how the body knows when to sleep and wake up, release hormones, adjust body temperature, and other important functions. Even more vital: Getting enough sleep is essential for repairing tissues, improving cognition, boosting immunity and reducing risk of obesity, cancer, and mental illness.

"We have this master clock ticking on the brain and each individual cells have their own little clock, so it's rather like the conductor of an orchestra producing a signal which the rest of the body takes a cue from," Foster explained. "There is a beautiful symphony of rhythms."

But he says that regulating sleep patterns is even harder in winter because people spend time in "dimly-lit caves" at home and work that confuse the body about what time of day it is. (A recent study found that sitting away from office windows takes 46 minutes off a normal night's sleep.) One step to combat this is to ease the transition to bed at night — and switch off the lights!

"Sleep is the single most important behavior that we do," Foster said. "Across our lifespans, 36% of our life will be spent sleeping."

[via The Telegraph]
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