Today, Torrington, CT dental implants provider Dr. Kuzmin and the rest of his staff here at Torrington Dental Care want to talk about how taking care of your teeth might help you get better sleep. We know that sounds crazy. How can dental hygiene help a person fall asleep faster? Well, it’s not really the dental hygiene part that does it. It’s the environment in which you are brushing your teeth that may or may not be making it harder for you to fall asleep at night.
No, we’re not making this up. We promise.
In fact, everything we just said above comes from a new study being performed by Dr. Russell Foster, professor of circadian neuroscience, at Oxford University. Let’s take a closer look.
In our modern day world, it seems that mental stimulation is at a constant and all-time high. If you think about it, unless you are somewhere deep in a state park, you are most likely never more than ten feet away from an electronic screen, billboard, or loud noise. Cars rush past us, horns honk, loud ads play on TV screens out in the streets, and bright, fluorescent lights illuminate the spaces in which we work during the day and night.
With all this in mind, it’s no wonder that people are so high strung. If you think about it, and then take into consideration the way the human species evolved, it all makes sense. Millions of years ago, our great ancestors were all living in the wild. As we evolved, our survival skills improved and our intelligence grew. However, one fact that is less known is that despite our growing intelligence, our ancestors survived mainly off of their scavenging skills for many more years to come.
Now think a little further into what scavenging means. Seeing as we do not have the gift of night vision like other animals do, daytime and/or bright light became hardwired in our minds as a signal that it is time to be awake, alert, and searching for food. If you weren’t you were hungry and possibly dead.
Now, in order for something to evolve, millions of years are required. It means whatever was evolved is now hard grained in that species existence, within their very DNA. However, the evolution of human technology has moved at a rate much faster than biological evolution. Once electricity was harnessed, it took the human race less than 50 years to have it running through houses and illuminating out lives. Soon to some were radios, then TVs. Giant electronic billboards followed, and now time square in New York is essentially a series of giant TV screens and flashing lights. All this happened within a few hundred years! When you think about it, it’s downright awe-inspiring.
However, amidst all these technological advances, our minds, our human nature, is still very much similar to that of our ancient ancestors. Take adrenalin for instance. That surge you feel throughout your body when someone pops out of nowhere and scares you, that’s adrenaline. We developed this response to sudden stimulus as a way to protect ourselves. The way we jump, the way our hands fly out in front of us and shield our faces. This is old evolution in action. We are inclined to protect our eyes at all costs, as our vision was and still is one of our greatest advances. We depended on it to live and find food millions of years ago, and today we depend on our eyes even though we don’t have to search for food anymore.
This is the thesis that Professor Foster is basing his study on; our eyesight and its response to light stimulus.
“Sleep is the single most important behavior that we do. Across our lifespans 36 percent of our life will be spent sleeping,” Foster said following a lecture on sleep at The Royal Society in London. “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. That is very disrupting. I often think someone should invent a bathroom mirror light which has a different setting for night-time.”
Basically, what Professor Foster is suggesting is that you try to refrain from flipping the bathroom light on when you go to brush your teeth before bed. In doing so, it may help to keep your brain calm and not stimulate the part of it that sees light and screams for us to wake up.
Who knows? It may help you get some better sleep tonight. Just don’t trip over anything!
Until next time readers, keep the bathroom light off and keep smiling.