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woman on plane-pink pillow and sleep maskAccording to a study published in the scientific journal Cancer Research in December 2005, breast cancer rates increase when women sleep in a lightened bedroom. The research also reveals that night-shift workers (such as flight attendants and nurses) are up to 60% more likely to succumb to breast cancer, the most common cancer in women worldwide. Women who stay up late at night 2-3 times per week show similar increased rates of the disease.

The reason?

Exposure to light during sleep can interfere with one of the body’s best natural defenses against cancer: melatonin.

Melatonin, referred to as the “hormone of darkness,” is secreted by the pineal gland at night, especially in the early hours of the morning. When your body is in total darkness, it produces more melatonin, which is needed by the immune system to fight and prevent certain diseases, such as prostate and breast cancer.

Sleeping with the light on or staying up late at work or at home can slow down or stop the production of melatonin, and even accelerate the growth of breast cancer, according to

Sleep in a completely dark room

In order to get a good night’s sleep and boost your body’s production of melatonin, you should sleep in a completely dark room devoid of artificial light, including night lights, street lighting or even a bedside clock, all of which are capable of disrupting melatonin production.

Sleep more than 6 hours per night

And it’s not just the darkness of the room you sleep in that helps lessen the risk of breast cancer — it’s also the amount of hours you spend sleeping. Japanese researchers involved in the 1994 Ohsaki Cohort Study concluded that sleep duration and the level of melatonin significantly influence the risk of breast cancer in women. In a control group of 25,000 Japanese women, it was determined that women who slept less than 6 hours a night had a significantly greater risk of developing breast cancer.

One solution for sleeping in total darkness

To help you sleep devoid of light, we would like to suggest the Midnight Magic Sleep Mask by Cabeau, the first sleep mask with an adjustable nose bridge which allows you to bend and mold the mask to fit your unique facial features. It is this unique ability to custom-fit the mask to the contours of your face that allows you to sleep in complete darkness. Also, the mask’s silky fabric is very soft against your skin, so that your sleep isn’t interrupted by scratchy material.

So do your part to lessen your chances of developing breast cancer: stop reading, turn off the lights, and go to sleep!

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