'Lights out' is the best approach to a good night's sleep. Darkness stimulates the body's natural production of a hormone called 'melatonin' which is important for sleep promotion. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland (a tiny pea-sized gland located in the center of the brain) and governs the sleep/ wake cycle. It is the absence of light at night that causes biochemical changes to take place in our bodies that lead to a significant increase in melatonin levels. It is in part, this elevation of melatonin that causes us to feel sleepy and enjoy a good nights' sleep. Granted, living in a city with glaring flourescent lights 24/7 can make it difficult to experience true darkness, but there are 'blackout' curtain and shade options available. Creating nighttime darkness is a worthwhile endeavour as science suggests the importance of melatonin extends beyond a good night's sleep, it is also believed to be protective against breast cancer and alzheimers disease, as well as an important factor in memory and cognitive function.
Turning the lights out at night is not only good for us humans, but also the birds. www.toronto.ca/lightsout