As a Pediatric Sleep Consultant, this question makes its appearance every other day. I have real riveting conversations some would say. But, in my realm, it can make or break sleep and it’s a valid concern that I am always happy to weigh in on. I’m a parent myself, and I always admire the incessant attempts that parents take to figure out each sliver of parenting. By the time we have it all figured out, things have changed once again and our children are grown.
Night lights – who would’ve ever thought there needs to be much to say on the subject? Oh, but there is! Can some night lights actually hinder a child’s sleep? Most definitely; in fact, most of the fun, exciting products on the market do just that. You see, there are certain lights that stimulate us and others that make us drowsy. That means the way we view these lights play a role in our hormone production. Yesssss, it is that serious! When we, as adults, stare at our phones at night our bodies often become confused. Is it time to sleep? Is it time to party? What’s happening? And once we do fall asleep, it can often disrupt sleep. Why? Because our internal systems are desperately trying to recover and regulate, but the stimulating light battles our internal clock. It’s not life or death, but it does throw a wrench into our sleep patterns.
Now, put yourself in your baby’s shoes (err, socks). If you are trying to convey to your baby that it is time to sleep, and then you introduce a light, that can be truly confusing for your little one. Your child has little communication skills and is hanging on to every action, emotion, and environmental cue provided. Introducing light, when we are suggesting they sleep is doing baby no favors. On the other hand, you as a parent may want to see what you’re doing at 3am! Therefore, the nightlight is for YOU, not for the baby. You must safely navigate and that is a good practice. With that being said, you must choose your night light carefully.
Refrain from LED or white/blue light bulbs (this is also the light that our Smart TVs and tablets emit). You want to stick to the traditional nightlight that we all grew up with – an orangish bulb that does the trick. On a brightness scale of 1 (the Sun) to 10 (total darkness), you will want the room at least at an 8.5. Remember, night lights cast shadows on the wall, and the last thing you want is to intrigue and stimulate your baby traffic flows by or a tree blows in the wind. Give your baby every opportunity to fall back to sleep on her own, hence my point.
Does a toddler need a night light? They may want one and request a light; this is very typical and I encourage your support here. However, the same rules apply; nothing too stimulating, and nothing too bright. This means that the star projector should be reserved for daytime play, and grab a bore of a nightlight for wind-down time and bedtime.
The Magic Light Smart Bulb is a dream for the 2.5-years & up crowd. It syncs with your phone to automatically change to any color you’d like, at any time you please! Set it to a dim red for night sleep, and coordinate the Magic Light to change to green (“green means go”) at an appropriate time for your toddler or child to start their day. This light is super motivating and helps children understand the concept of time (time to sleep versus time to play). Check out the Magic Light Smart Bulb here (via my afflilate link: http://amzn.to/2t4D7yN).
Amy Douglas is a Certified Sleep Consultant at Baby Sleep Central. Recently named as one of the Best Sleep Consultants in the United States, Douglas works with parents of children from Birth – Age 6. Help your baby, toddler, or child sleep more independently, starting tonight.