Want Great Sleep? Turn Off Your Night Lite {and a few other things}

Want Great Sleep? Turn Off Your Night Lite {and a few other things}

Want Great Sleep? Turn Off Your Night Lite {and a few other things}

 Years ago ‘in the dark ages’, I heard someone say that a night light in our bedroom would mess with 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 be causative. Getting poor sleep was suggested as just one possible reason for infertility.

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.

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.

One major way to disrupt deep, healthful sleep:

1.) use a night lite

2.) use other electronic devices

      a.) right before bedtime

      b.) during the night to check emails or text

 Touchscreen_IMG_2796

 (Creative Commons)

Mark’s Daily Apple tells it this way:

The color (wavelength) of the light we perceive “sets” our biological clocks, also known as circadian rhythms. And in the natural environment, with its reliably consistent lighting schedule, it works pretty well. During the day, we see all the visible wavelengths provided by the sun, including violet, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red light, and this “tells” our bodies that it’s daytime, that’s it’s time to be active. Secretion of melatonin, the “sleepy hormone,” is blunted.
At night, when the only visible light is historically the longer wavelengths, the yellows, oranges, and reds which we create through campfires, or candles, or gas lamps, melatonin secretion is unaffected. We get sleepy like we should, when we should.

 Oil_Lamp_(4752005479)

“But we don’t use candles and oil lamps at night anymore, do we? We use white LED lights (blue light) and stare into laptop (blue light) and high-def TV (blue light) screens. We use our iPhones (blue light) or Androids (blue light) in bed, even waking up in the middle of the night just to check our email (blue light) because “why not, we’re up anyway!” To really get a sense of this, next time you take a nighttime stroll around your neighborhood, pay attention to the living rooms of the houses you walk past. If they’re got their plasma or LCD going, the lights off, and it’s dark out, the entire room will be bathed in an overpowering blue light. It’ll look like a scene from an alien abduction movie or something. Of course, whether the room lights are on or off, that blue light from the screen is still there, beaming directly into the eyes of those present and affecting the secretion of their melatonin.”

images (14)

We would do well to do a thorough “light check” of your bedroom, as ANY source of light — even one as tiny as the green glow from your clock radio — could be interfering with your ability to sleep, and more importantly, your long term health and risk of developing cancer. Sleep in complete darkness to decrease cancer risk.

Children and Sleep

Did you know that putting a {bluelight} night-light in your baby’s bedroom may be affecting their melatonin levels? When our children have a night-light in their room, the blue light emitted from it can affect their melatonin production, which can lead to a host of other problems and cause them to wake up more often.

284886653_85ed8d73b5_o

If you or your children have a problem falling asleep or feeling rested when you awaken, 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 can sleep better.

Want Great Sleep? Turn Off Your Night Lite {and a few other things}, sleepless child, restless, fretful child, TV on at night, not sleeping through the night,

(Creative Commons)

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 night lites?

My Version ~ Good Girl Moonshine!, Emile Munier, May I Have One, too?, painting, child with a slice of bread, eating fruit

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~ Jacqueline

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24 Responses to Want Great Sleep? Turn Off Your Night Lite {and a few other things}

  1. Thankful for God's Grace says:

    Thank you for this information! The children and I don’t like to sleep in the dark so we usually leave a lamp on in the living room. Those red lights sound interesting…do you know what they are made of?

    • Jacqueline says:

      No, I don’t, but let me/us know if you find out, OK? Thank you!

      • Thankful for God's Grace says:

        They are LED (so no mercury:D). We actually found some at Wal-Mart for under $2 compared to Amazon for $8. The children have been doing really well. Thank you again for all the great information you pass along! You are such a blessing!

  2. Toni says:

    Wow, modern technology is killin’ us. We don’t use any type of night light, but the computer stays plugged in all the time in another room and puts out light in several spot. I may have to snuff it out. Jacqueline, thank you for another great informative article. Have a great weekend!

    • Jacqueline says:

      I need to figure out how to hide our passive motion detector at night! We have done this for a while, but I never really understood it…I wrote this post for myself, too ;) I’ll stop over soon!

  3. Lauren says:

    Thanks for the tips! I have a bad habit of looking at my cell phone before sleep. I definitely need to change this part of my routine. I am someone who needs my 8 hours of good sleep to feel rested!

    • Jacqueline says:

      Thank you for sharing that…I suppose we all need to re-think our pre-bedtime ritual. I’m going to look into a Himalayan salt lamp :)
      Blessings!

  4. Katie says:

    I have read about using Himalayan salt lamps as night lights because those emit red tones of light.

  5. Jedidja says:

    This is the lesson I learned from my neuroog! I agree. I have a sleep disorder: Sleep paralysis. I have learned some important things from the neurologist. No lights in your bedroom in the night. Turn your alarm clock (with lighted digits) to the wall. It helps.

    But now I’m a bit worrying. My son is in his room a weakly illuminated globe. It gives him security at night. Would that cause problems? He can not see the globe, it stands behind his bed. But a little bit of light is on the curtain.

    • Jacqueline says:

      Jedidja :) Hi! I’ve been thinking about you and praying :) About your son’s globe – I did some research to find a something helpful:

      “Circadian rhythms are regular changes in mental and physical characteristics that occur in the course of a day (circadian is Latin for “around a day”). Most circadian rhythms are controlled by the body’s biological “clock.” This clock, called the suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN (see figure 2 ), is actually a pair of pinhead-sized brain structures that together contain about 20,000 neurons. The SCN rests in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, just above the point where the optic nerves cross. Light that reaches photoreceptors in the retina (a tissue at the back of the eye) creates signals that travel along the optic nerve to the SCN.

      Signals from the SCN travel to several brain regions, including the pineal gland, which responds to light-induced signals by switching off production of the hormone melatonin. The body’s level of melatonin normally increases after darkness falls, making people feel drowsy. The SCN also governs functions that are synchronized with the sleep/wake cycle, including body temperature, hormone secretion, urine production, and changes in blood pressure.

      By depriving people of light and other external time cues, scientists have learned that most people’s biological clocks work on a 25-hour cycle rather than a 24-hour one. But because sunlight or other lights can reset the SCN, our biological cycles normally follow the 24-hour cycle of the sun, rather than our innate cycle. Circadian rhythms can be affected to some degree by almost any kind of external time cue, such as the beeping of your alarm clock, the clatter of a garbage truck, or the timing of your meals. Scientists call external time cues zeitgebers (German for “time givers”).” http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brain_basics/understanding_sleep.htm

      So, anything that triggers the brain to think it is still day can affect deep sleep and interfere with true REM time (it likely depends on the person as we are all unique). There are links in the post that go into greater depth. I chose Dr. Mercola articles b/c he is so clear in his explanations. I hope that helps. (Side note: since we home-educated, I wanted to give our children the greatest edge to learning possible. I think this could potentially affect mood and learning if severe enough).

      Multiplied blessings to you!

  6. Kurt says:

    I’ve used f.lux on my computer for over a year, and like the way it warms the light after sunset and cools it off again at dawn. I don’t have definitive data that my health benefits from using the software, but I believe I fall to sleep quicker at night when I view a 2700K display in the evening instead of a 6500K display.

    • Jacqueline says:

      Kurt,
      I will ask my son who would know about this! Thanks :)
      While I’m here, I will ask you something: is there any way to turn off our router every night and on again in the AM with a timer each day? I have heard it is possible. Thanks!

      • Kurt says:

        We used to unplug our router (in the bedroom) every night to avoid the nightlight effect, but ended up replacing routers frequently. Now that we leave it on, it has lived several years. We have placed a cardboard box over the router to block the light, and currently have tinted plastic cling material over the lights. The cling material was originally designed to block sunlight on children trapped in car seats in the back seat.

  7. Elizabeth Carey says:

    Thank you Mrs. Jacqueline once again for timely and practical information. With a 4-month-old of course we’re all about learning how to help her sleep. We knew the importance of keeping her room dark, so we did the obvious: covered her window, put a towel at the bottom of her door on the outside, etc… But, there are a couple of things I’ve noticed when checking on her in the middle of the night. The first is a small red dot on the foot slider which turns on her lamp. I think that’s easily fixed with tape over the little light. The other thing, which I haven’t been able to figure out, is the smoke detector in her room. It has a green back light that shines across the room and puts pattern on the wall above her crib. I’ve debated on whether or not it’s safe to put tape around the outside of the smoke detector while being careful not to cover the sensor. I don’t’ want to dismantle it completely, even though Dave and I are in the room right next door. I just don’t want to do anything unsafe (obviously). Any thoughts?

    • Jacqueline says:

      Hi, Elizabeth :)
      We had to fix that, too. We just put a thick piece of cardboard sized 2 x 2″ (taped) over the green light only. There is no light coming from anywhere else on the fixture. I think the thing is to not block sensing of smoke should there ever be a fire.
      I have thought of you often. May the Lord bless you in multiplied ways during this incredibly precious time…you are such good parents!
      I am praying! Hugs :)

  8. Elizabeth Carey says:

    Thanks for the idea! We’ll give that a try. Thank you for your sweet words of encouragement and most of all for taking time to pray for us. We are thinking and praying for your family too. Blessings!

  9. k says:

    I had also heard somewhere that music can have similar effects. My boys like to go to sleep to soft worship music playing. I always make sure to shut it off when they go to sleep, but now I’m wondering if I should let them fall alseep this way, thoughts?

    • Jacqueline says:

      Hmm…that is a GREAT question, K! Two of ours will still play the lullabies occasionally, yes! they will ( Michael Card’s
      Sleep Sound To Jesus and Come To the Cradle) to go to sleep maybe twice a month, otherwise quiet. They set it to go off after 2-3 pieces somehow. I have not noticed anything because they aren’t little anymore. I’ve always been into routine. We used to sing and rock every night (for 5-6 years) as littles, and that was wonderful…so peaceful :) Sorry, I don’t know.
      Blessings,
      Jacqueline

  10. Becca says:

    Interesting! One of our kids sleeps with a nightlight and I’ve thought over and over that it might be causing problems with his sleep (or his easily falling back to sleep if he wakes up). This definitely confirms some suspicion…sharing this post with others tomorrow morning!

  11. Becca says:

    Interesting info on all that a lack of sleep can cause! Thanks for sharing this at the Healthy Tuesday hop. :)

  12. Rachel R. says:

    Unfortunately, I don’t find it practical to remove the alarm clock from the bedroom. But we don’t use a night light. In my mind, the purpose of a night light is to keep *in the bathroom* at night so if you get up to go potty you don’t have to turn that light on, either! :)

  13. So glad to read this post! I, too, had major problems sleeping, and after much research I finally developed an effective method to get more restorative sleep each night! Thank you so much for an informative post!

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