Last week we talked about the Circadian Rhythm and its role in our little one's sleep. One of the aspects that influence the circadian rhythm is light exposure. So how can we pick a night light that is ok to use at night that doesn't influence their sleep? Read below for what to look for and how to choose which one is right for your little one's sleep!
Pictured above: Suzy Snooze, GroEgg 2, Ewan the dream sheep, Lumie. Click on the image for a link to the product.
Exposure to light is one factor that causes our bodies to release cortisol to wake us up and get ready for the day. I generally suggest that the bedroom stays as dark as possible to avoid affecting your little one's production of melatonin, release cortisol, and then wake them up! We know that any changes that happen in their sleep environment also could affect their sleep and keeping the room as dark as possible can help avoid just that.
However, when our little ones are infants, we need light to see to do feedings or even to get up to change a diaper if necessary. In those first months, keeping the room dark will help them differentiate between night and day even though the light won't affect them much because they don't yet produce their own melatonin. But it will affect your sleep as a parent! And you know, as your child gets older, they could be a little afraid of the dark. Being so, nightlights are important! Wait? I just said no lights? So what can we do?
How to pick a night light that won't affect sleep
We know that blue/white light has a huge effect on melatonin production. This is the key reason why sleep educators highly suggest turning off the screens, lowering the lights, and turning on warm-colored lights before going to bed. We know that red and warm-toned lights do not affect melatonin production! In certain studies, it has been suggested that exposure to red light before bed and throughout the night can actually raise levels of melatonin and aid in the sleepy feeling that comes along with melatonin.
So when you are looking for a night light, stay away from any with blues, greens, white, or any cool colors lights. Red is the way to go!
Make sure that the light is a stable, non-moving light. We love those stars or moving lights, but sometimes those could be more of a distraction than an aid.
As a side note, for adults who use screens before bed (tablets, phones, TVs, computers, etc) try turning on your devices night-time mode that makes the screen a warm color or consider investing in some blue light glasses.
Should I leave it on all night?
Yes! We want their sleep space to be exactly the same all night from the moment they fall asleep to the moment they wake up in the morning.
Try going into their room in the day, close the blinds, and turn on the red light if you choose to use one. Sit with your eyes closed for just 5-10 minutes so your eyes can adjust. When you open your eyes, do you notice light coming in around the windows? What about under the door? Even with the night light on, the light entering can cause a change in the room for your little one, so make sure you can find a way to block that light.
What else should I consider?
Do you have an older child? There are some great lights that can be used right from the start to accompany them with many different tools as they grow. Some act as a monitor, a thermometer, or even white noise, monitor, and sleep tool to help your little one know when it's ok to get out of bed. These are all handy to have while your little one grows!
Suzy Snooze: Smart Nightlight, Sleep Soother, and Baby Monitor
The GroEgg: Night light + Thermometer
SweetDreamers: Ewan The Dream Sheep
Lumie: The Bedbug
Mariana G. Figueiro, Mark S. Rea,"The Effects of Red and Blue Lights on Circadian Variations in Cortisol, Alpha Amylase, and Melatonin",International Journal of Endocrinology,vol. 2010,Article ID 829351,9pages,2010.https://doi.org/10.1155/2010/829351