Sleeping, snoozing, nodding off, getting shut-eye… However we say it, we need it. Sleep regenerates our bodies, helps us form memories, and tunes up neural connections. But now scientists are saying that catching plenty of zzz’s can also reduce our risk of cancer.
When light levels are low, our tiny pineal gland releases a hormone called melatonin into our blood. This hormone makes us sleepy and helps us drift off.
And when scientists evaluated the effects of melatonin on the body, they found that it did not only help someone to sleep, but high levels were linked to fewer occurrences of cancer.
The problem is that most people don’t have enough melatonin in their blood stream. Why? Synthetic light. Before electricity, most people would wake up at sunrise and go to bed soon after sunset. This was not only because they didn’t have Netflix to keep them entertained into the wee hours of the night. With the sun as the main source of light, the melatonin levels would rise as it got darker to make us sleepy, and then lower again at dawn.
With lamps and lights, we can keep it as bright as day in our home all the time. It can trick the pineal gland into thinking it is not night, and therefore not releasing enough melatonin to make us tired.
So, turn of the lamps a bit earlier and turn off the T.V. a bit sooner. Your sleep will improve, and your risk of cancer may decrease.