Years ago ‘in the dark ages’, I heard someone say that a night lite in our bedroom would mess with human circadian rhythms and our ability to get restful and restorative sleep. As you may know, my husband and I had 20 years of infertility, so I was interested in anything that could undermine our potential to conceive.
Getting poor sleep was suggested as just one possible reason for infertility.
The Glow Has To Go
It seemed obvious to me: If I wanted to be able to see in our bedroom at night, plugging in a dim nightlight to cut through the darkness seemed reasonable. But even though a nightlight will help guide us on our nighttime trips to the bathroom, it can cost us.
Having a nightlight in our room will disturb natural melatonin production.
Light-At-Night Sleep Deprivation
Dr. Mercola says that science is finding that light-at-night sleep deprivation can have serious, long-reaching health consequences:
- Impair your physical or mental performance and decrease your problem-solving ability
- Cause a pre-diabetic state, making you feel hungry even if you’ve already eaten, which can wreak havoc on your weight
- Dramatically weaken your immune system
- Seriously impair your memory; even a single night of poor sleep—meaning sleeping only 4 to 6 hours—can impact your ability to think clearly the next day
- Sleep deprivation prematurely ages you by interfering with your growth hormone production, normally released by your pituitary gland during deep sleep
- Accelerate tumor growth—tumors grow two to three times faster in laboratory animals with severe sleep dysfunctions
When your circadian rhythms are interrupted, your body produces less melatonin (a hormone and an antioxidant) and less effectively fights cancer, since melatonin helps suppress free radicals that can lead to cancer. This is backed up by a study in Cancer Research which suggests that cancer spreads more aggressively in those who sleep poorly.
Light and Dark Signals Control Biological Clock
While it’s typically thought that your biological clock is what tells you when it’s time to wake up or go to sleep, light and dark signals actually control your biological clock.
Even a simple night lite can affect it.
The Most Significant Finding
The most significant thing this study found in terms of the disruption of sleep was that exposure to blue light drastically disrupts the continuity of sleep.
- Exposure to red light people woke up an average of 4 times (normal unnoticed awakenings)
- Exposure to weak blue light 6.7 (noticed awakenings)
- Exposure to strong blue light recorded 7.6 awakenings
Putting a tiny little (blue lite) night lite in your baby or child’s bedroom or allowing them to fall asleep to the TV will absolutely affect their melatonin levels.
Limiting their blue light exposure before bedtime could help increase their melatonin levels and improve their ability to sleep.
I believe the well-rested child should have greater ability to cope with frustration and the normal challenges of life, and every Mama knows that if we can help our children sleep better, we sleep better.
Children that are not getting good sleep can be chronically irritable children, often in a state of abnormally high arousal, and may be cranky and irritable. Years of mild sleep deprivation can result in even worse problems in later years as sleep deprivation is cumulative. It becomes habitually hard for them to fall asleep.
Then add habitual use of a device before bed to the mix…
A Child’s Devise Use After Bedtime
“Because his room was dark and the door was closed, Robin Edwards assumed her then-11-year-old son went to bed before 10PM. Then one stormy night, when her husband went into his room to check the windows, the boy’s secret was out: Instead of sleeping, he was playing on his laptop into the wee hours of the morning. He had smushed a pillow against the bottom of the door to block the light.
“This explained a lot. “We usually had to pull him out of bed in the morning,” says Edwards. Besides fatigue, kids who don’t get enough sleep—studies show children 10 to 13 need nine to 10 hours a night, but get less than eight—can suffer from poor grades and memory loss, says Indra Narang, a respirologist and director of Paediatric Sleep Medicine at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. Chronically sleep-deprived kids, she adds, can act a lot like those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): irritable, aggressive and distractible.” (source)
Any Help Out There?
Sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus PhD. appeared on CBS This Morning recently and talked about blue light exposure, and how to manage it. He included some new things our ancestors never had to think about:
- Blutein contains lutein and zeaxanthin. Research suggests these may help strengthen the eye’s natural ability to block blue light and protect the retina against macular degeneration. The eye has its own blue-light shield—it’s called the retinal pigment epithelium, a thin layer of cells near the retina.
- GoodNight Sleep Promoting LED Night Light Bulb – For use in bedrooms, this sleep aid bulb emits less of the blue light waves. It utilizes the technology NASA astronauts have used.
- HACK YOU AND YOUR BABY’S SLEEP PATTERNS! Backed by science and similar to technology used by NASA to help astronauts sleep in outer space, the Nite-Nite Light provides the appearance of darkness at the right wavelength to cue an infant’s internal clock.
- Cyxus Blue Light Filter [Better Sleep] UV Blocking Computer Glasses (for adults on the computer) – Cyxus is an FDA REGISTERED COMPANY.
One Solution For a Night Lite
Your eyes will adjust to no night lite because our eyes naturally adjust to the dark, but in the event you or a child are uncomfortable with total dark, there is a red spectrum night light available that will not play havoc with your melatonin production.
Do your children sleep with a night lite?
“…when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” ~Proverbs 3:24
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