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  • Alex Johnston


Updated: Oct 17, 2023

Our eyes are a pathway to our brain. Our brains use visual cues to determine our circadian rhythm and this in turn affects everything from our moods to our sleep patterns. For millennia, these cues came from the rising and setting of the sun. Since we now spend significant time indoors, there are ways to mimic the visual stimuli that keep our brains in sync.

Why is Good Sleep So Important?

Many neuroscientists and biohacking experts are proponents of clean sleeping or maximizing the ways to get optimal sleep. For the last few years as more data emerges, the overarching message from the healthcare community is that wellness, mental health, and cognitive function are tied to the quantity of quality sleep we obtain. And a significant step to helping our brains properly regulate our sleep patterns can be found in the visual cues that can help our circadian rhythms run correctly.

Home Decorating Elements to Help Enhance Mood

There are many home design elements that can help you stimulate and soothe your brain at the appropriate times of the day. Wall colour is one of the most impactful parts of a room that can affect mood and our circadian rhythm. Beyond wall colours, there are other steps you can take to provide your brain with the correct cues for improved mood and more consistent and restful sleep patterns.

  • If you’re in the market for a new home, look for a condo or home with many windows. Floor-to-ceiling windows are ideal because they allow the most natural sunlight in. The same holds true for home renovations; the more windows, the more sun.

  • Use appropriate lighting. Opt for dimmers, when possible, to easily lower lighting. Use warm light in the evening to encourage relaxation. Alternatively, turn on cool daylight lighting when you want to keep your attention up. It’s particularly good for offices and meeting rooms. You can skip the blue light-blocking glasses during the daytime. Blue light is good for maintaining focus and letting your brain know it’s work time. If this sounds like a lot to remember, don’t worry, there are light bulbs and pot lights on the market that can change from warm to cool.

  • Consider installing baseboard lighting. It’s a high-end touch that will make those middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom much less interruptive.

Image Source : Ty Pennington

  • During the winter and on cloudy days, supplement your light exposure with an artificial source like a Verilux light box. It’s important to note that computer monitors, and mobile devices don’t give off enough light to count as light exposure. A Verilux HappyLight gives off 10,000 lux, the recommended dosage for light therapy.

For a Good Night’s Sleep, Start Your Day Right

Our eyes are the ways our brains get signals for our internal clock. So with that in mind, we want to stimulate our eyes during the day and soothe them at night. To do this, view sunlight for 2-10 minutes upon waking. This will stimulate cortisol and is a wake-up signal to the brain (although it gets a bad rap, cortisol is good during the day to keep energy levels up). It will also trigger the release of dopamine, the mood-elevating neurotransmitter that can help make starting the workday better.

This wake-up signal actually helps at bedtime. Picture your brain’s circadian rhythm like a giant countdown timer. When you wake up and trigger your brain that it’s morning, your brain begins the countdown clock. Now it starts ticking and is set to wind down at around 14-16 hours later. So if you can’t sleep at night, it may be your morning routine that needs changing. Adding exercise and social cues like conversation (even with pets) further stimulates your brain.

Beyond paint colour, there are many home design elements that can help improve mood and create healthier, more restorative sleep patterns that have far-reaching benefits to overall wellness.

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