Could Your Street Lights Be Disturbing Your Sleep?

In our recent infographic looking at ‘The Evolution of Sleep Disturbance Through the Generations’, the very first thing we highlighted back in 1807 was street lighting.

Back then street lighting was limited to the biggest settlements, but nowadays it’s virtually unavoidable, even in more rural locations.

To illustrate just how prevalent street lighting is, check out these incredible images from space from NASA.

And new research released today by Stanford University has backed up the link between street lighting and lack of sleep.

The research spanned over eight years, and surveyed 16,000 people on their sleep habits and the quality of their sleep.

Maurice Ohayon and his team at the university’s ‘Sleep Epidemiology Research Center’ then looked at satellite images to determine who lived in the areas most illuminated by street lighting.

Urban areas with more than 500,000 people are exposed to light three to six times more intense than those in smaller towns and rural areas, and these areas were deemed to be more intense light areas.

The study found that: “People living in more intense light areas were six per cent more likely to sleep less than six hours per night than people in less intense light areas.

“People living in more intense light areas were also more likely (29%) to be dissatisfied with their sleep quantity or quality.”

The report also found that people in the highly lit areas were also six per cent more likely to be suddenly jolted awake in a daze, and four per cent more likely to feel tired and fatigued the next day.

Lead researcher Dr. Ohayon said: “Our world has become a 24/7 society. We use outdoor lighting, such as street lights, to be more active at night and to increase our safety and security.

“The concern is that we have reduced our exposure to darkness, and it could be affecting our sleep.”

So how can you combat the bright light outside your window? We recommend looking into purchasing some blackout blinds or curtains, or even buying yourself a sleeping mask!

While street lighting certainly can be a big barrier to sleep, there are also a number of other factors such as traffic noise or loudmouth neighbours which have to be taken into account too.

Make sure to keep tuned to our blog for all the latest news and research from the world of sleep!