So far, we’ve talked a lot about the secrets of dental health success. On another note, it turns out the secret to a decent night’s sleep could interplay with your dental health routine.
Do you put a lot of thought into how, or when you brush your teeth? Most of us brush our teeth as we’re winding down before bed. Usually, we’re laying on the couch watching a little television or reading a book, as we feel the ZzZ’s start creeping in.
Most evenings, we slovenly pull ourselves off the couch, and tell ourselves something like, “okay, I guess I’ll get up and brush my teeth now.” We walk into the bathroom, turn the lights on, and get to brushing. Do you see anything wrong with this routine? From an oral health perspective, there’s nothing wrong with this routine. However, from a good night’s sleep perspective, turning the light on to brush your teeth could negatively impact your sleep.
Brushing Your Teeth with the Lights Off
Professor Russel Foster of circadian neuroscience at Oxford University claims that the fluorescent lighting in bathrooms can wake your body, when it should be shutting down for sleep. It makes sense, though. If you’ve ever gotten up in the middle of the night to use the restroom and turned the light on to a blinding feeling, then you understand how disruptive it can feel to turn the light on.
Most of the time, people dim their lights before bed, which helps your body get good and primed for sleep. Foster claims that you can fall to sleep better simply by brushing your teeth in the dark. Another option could be having a special “night time” mirror light, which would be less disruptive.
We don’t realize just how difficult it is for our bodies to regulate their sleep cycles. Over millions of years, the human body has evolved to interact with the light levels to turn genes on and off. During winter, sleep cycles often get confused, because we spend less time outside.
In fact, scientists have found that sitting away from the window at work can disrupt a normal night’s sleep by 46 minutes. This is because our brains are evolved to wake up with the sunlight, which is about 10,000 lux of light. On the other hand, indoor fluorescent lighting in offices only has about 300 to 500 lux.
Most people operate indoors the human body interprets this as a “dimly-lit cave,” and it confuses the body’s in-born clock. The best way to reset your body clock is by getting outside, especially in the morning. Another important restoring quality of sleep comes from dreaming. Dreaming is the way that we process information and make sense out of our day-to-day activities and knowledge.
Since the invention of the light-bulb, our bodies’ internal clocks have become even more confused. The small amount of light that’s radiated from light-bulbs is enough to trick us into thinking it’s daylight, even when we should be getting ready for bed.
The Importance of Sleep
Sleep is a human necessity. We spend about 36% of our life in slumber. Sleep is the key way that your body restores its cells, energy, and metabolic pathways. It’s also important for your body to rid itself of toxins. Sleep deprivation is shown to suppress your cognitive and creative ability. It can also hinder your immune system and increases your risk for obesity, diabetes, cancer, and mental illnesses.
It turns out that sleep deprivation could also be a factor in your oral health problems. We already mentioned that a proper night’s sleep helps our immune system function properly. A healthy immune system is required to fight off canker sores and gum disease. Teeth grinding is another oral health problem that is caused by sleep deprivation. Are you not getting a good night’s sleep? Try brushing with your lights off tonight and see if it makes a difference.