In order to provide safe and effective sleep for our kids, we have to optimize their sleep environment. That means making their sleep space as comfortable and non-disruptive as possible. Just like adults, too much light keeps children awake, but you’ll also be surprised to know that the color of the light is also important.
The light-dark cycle we’re exposed to every day is how we regulate our sleep cycle (or circadian rhythm) and even some of the hormones in our body. However, we often put night lights in our children’s rooms to make them feel safe, but they can cause more harm than good.
Even if our kids (or adults) fall asleep in a room with gentle light, the brain can detect that light through the eyelids. This could inhibit the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps control our sleep-wake cycles. Typically melatonin is high in the late evening and throughout the night, then begins to decrease towards the morning. Essentially, it keeps you asleep.
Blue, white and green spectrum light are both melatonin-suppressive. They stop your body from making melatonin, which eventually cause us to rise. This is the type of light emitted from electronic devices and most household lightbulbs.
From a Harvard study: “While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light does so more powerfully. Harvard researchers and their colleagues conducted an experiment comparing the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light to exposure to green light of comparable brightness. The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).”
What’s even worse: some research shows that blue light may contribute to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Here are some ways you can make the sleep space as conducive to sleep as possible:
1. Nix the nightlights
The change might be tough to make, especially if your children are used to sleeping with nightlights, but their health is worth it. A simple and effective way to remove nightlights is to move them out of the room over time. Move them from their usual position to an outlet near the door, then an outlet in the hallway, down the hallway, etc. Eventually you’ll be able to do away with them without incident.
2. Turn off electronic devices
Make sure all televisions and computers are switched off during the night. Studies have shown that those children who watched TV and played video games before going to bed took longer to fall asleep than those who watched none at all. Even the light from alarm clocks can interfere with their sleep. (Most people don’t have an alarm clock in the nursery, but it’s worth mentioning since these sleep tips apply to anyone at any age.)
3. Use red tone lights
You’ll need light in some places, like the hallway or bathroom for when kids wake up. Use lights that work on the red spectrum so they don’t disrupt sleep. Here are three great options: the Himalayan Salt Lamp, the Ikea Patrull Nightlight and the OriGlam Light Color Change Humidifier.
4. Install blackout curtains
Blackout curtains are a great way to keep outside light out of the room. These don’t just stop the sunlight. They also stop car headlights, street lamps, moonlight and other weather related light from penetrating the room and keeping your little one awake. They also reduce your heating and cooling costs.
Guest Blog by Joanna von Yurt, Co-Founder and CEO of Swanling Innovations Inc.
Joanna von Yurt is the mother of three intelligent, sensitive, and compassionate girls (who all want to be mommies when they grow up). She is first AND foremost a mom! Professionally, however, she is an accountant, controller and serial entrepreneur.
Joanna has a degree in Psychology from Harvard University with an emphasis in child psychology. She worked as an infant caregiver for 12 years and interned as a Child Life Specialist, family/social therapist, and assisted in clinical studies involving children’s personality and social psychology.
Joanna has a lifelong passion for childcare and child safety. She enjoys sharing her experiences with other parents about sleep routines, attachment parenting, safe sleep guidelines, and children’s natural sleep patterns. Her company, Swanling Innovations, is committed to producing modern, safe and innovative products that meet the expectations of discerning parents. The Slumber Sleeper™ is a 4-in 1 safe sleep solution (mattress protector, flat sheet, fitted sheet and sleep sack all in one) designed to help keep your baby safe, warm and centered.
Joanna always says that a well-rested child and well-rested parents add up to a happy family!
Visit www.swanling.com for more information.
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