It's no secret that as parents, getting your child to bed is not always an easy feat. Children often resist bedtime and want to stay up for as long as possible. Understanding the negative impact that bright lights can have your child’s sleep quality is an important way to support sleep. Bright lights, particularly blue-light, can significantly inhibit the production of the important hormone that aids in sleep; melatonin (Pandi-Perumal et al, 2007). Let’s take a closer look at the effects of bright lights on your child's sleep, talk about nightlights and what you can do to support their sleep.
Studies have shown that exposure to light before bedtime can suppress melatonin production, which helps prepare the body for sleep (Aoki et al, 1998; Boivin & Czeisler, 1998; Figueiro et al, 2008; McIntyre et al, 1989; Zeitzer et al, 2000). In particular, blue lights are found in electronic screens like TVs, tablets, and phones, and can keep children up longer than usual. The effects of blue lights on sleep quality aren't limited to only children either. Any of us who use screens for an extended time before bed, can also feel the impact of poor-quality sleep.
It's worth noting that melatonin is a crucial hormone that affects both the readiness for sleep at bedtime and the quality of sleep during the night. Ensuring your child's melatonin production is not disrupted is a great way to support their sleep. This is particularly important because children need more sleep than adults for healthy growth and development. A child's sleep quality affects every aspect of their well-being and development, so supporting them to get enough quality sleep to meet their unique needs is important.
You can support your children getting the best sleep possible by limiting their exposure to bright lights close to bedtime. In addition to minimising exposure to bright lights, if your child struggles with the dark and you would like to introduce a night light, it can be important to consider the type of light you select.
Night lights provide a gentle and comforting glow that can help alleviate any fears of the dark and where this helps a child feel better regulated for sleep, this can support improved sleep. When it comes to choosing the right night light, it's important to opt for ones that emit a warm, yellow-based or red-based light as these are considered ideal for promoting better sleep because they have less impact on melatonin production.
One popular option that combines functionality with aesthetics is the pear-shaped night light. Designed to be a cute bedroom accessory, the pear night light emits a soft, warm glow that creates a cozy and comforting ambiance. Its adorable design adds a touch of whimsy to the room while also serving its practical purpose of providing a gentle light source during the night.
The impact of bright lights on sleep cannot be underestimated. By being mindful of the effects of bright lights on sleep quality, we can support our children to have better sleep.
Aoki H, Yamada N, Ozeki Y, Yamane H, Kato N. Minimum light intensity required to suppress nocturnal melatonin concentration in human saliva. Neurosci Lett. 1998 Aug 14;252(2):91-4. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3940(98)00548-5. PMID: 9756329.
Boivin DB, Czeisler CA. Resetting of circadian melatonin and cortisol rhythms in humans by ordinary room light. Neuroreport. 1998 Mar 30;9(5):779-82. doi: 10.1097/00001756-199803300-00002. PMID: 9579664.
Figueiro MG, Wood B, Plitnick B, Rea MS. The imspact of light from computer monitors on melatonin levels in college students. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2011;32(2):158-63. PMID: 21552190.
McIntyre IM, Norman TR, Burrows GD, Armstrong SM. Human melatonin suppression by light is intensity dependent. J Pineal Res. 1989;6(2):149-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-079x.1989.tb00412.x. PMID: 2915324.
Pandi-Perumal SR, Smits M, Spence W, Srinivasan V, Cardinali DP, Lowe AD, Kayumov L. Dim light melatonin onset (DLMO): a tool for the analysis of circadian phase in human sleep and chronobiological disorders. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Jan 30;31(1):1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2006.06.020. Epub 2006 Aug 1. PMID: 16884842.
Zeitzer JM, Dijk DJ, Kronauer R, Brown E, Czeisler C. Sensitivity of the human circadian pacemaker to nocturnal light: melatonin phase resetting and suppression. J Physiol. 2000 Aug 1;526 Pt 3(Pt 3):695-702. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7793.2000.00695.x. PMID: 10922269; PMCID: PMC2270041.