Can a Night Light Affect Sleep?

Some parents like to have night lights in their children’s rooms so that when they go in to do a middle of the night feeding, or want to check the temperature of the room, they don’t injure themselves trying to maneuver around in the dark.  Other parents like the night light because they believe their child needs it, or even worry they may have a fear of the dark.  Depending on the age of your child, the latter reason is less likely to be the case and in fact, most types of light can negatively affect how we (as children and as adults) sleep at night.

When we are exposed to light, our melatonin level (the hormone that promotes sleep) is suppressed.  As you can imagine, being exposed to all of this light during the day is a great thing because first things first, falling asleep on the job doesn’t generally go well with our bosses.  And secondly, it can increase your alertness throughout the day which can help you sleep better at night.  However, when we expose ourselves to a lot of light at night, it has the opposite effect.  Watching television, playing on our phones, having every light in the house on, are all things that can negatively affect how well we sleep at night.  Even a simple night light, or the blue light on your DVR can have an impact while you sleep.  There has even been research that shows blue and white lights are not only damaging to our sleeping patterns, but also negatively effect our moods and can even cause major health issues.

Does this mean we have to live from 6pm-6am in complete darkness?  Of course not!  This is just something to keep in mind if you or your child doesn’t sleep well at night.  A simple night light more than likely isn’t the underlying issue if you have a poor sleeper on your hands, but it is a small thing that can easily be adjusted that may help to achieve more restful nights.

So, if you are someone that has to have a light on at night, or really wants one in the nursery, just consider adjusting to a red/orange toned light which will have less effects on our body and circadian rhythm.

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