Can Light and Nightlights Impact Your Child’s Sleep
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There are 3 changes you can make today in your child’s room to get more sleep tonight. First, we discuss the use of night lights in a child’s room, something I see frequently as a sleep consultant.  Next, we discuss ambient lighting from the gadgets, timers, monitors, etc that are emitted from devices. Finally, we discuss body clock management to avoid overtired and ensure your infant or toddler has the right bedtime.


Episode Highlights:

  • 1:06 – Lighting in the bedroom
  • 3:30 – Darkness and their circadian rhythm
  • 8:00 – Are newborns & infants afraid of the dark?
  • 9:00 – Ambient light in the room
  • 11:00 – Devices in the Bedroom – Yay or Nay?
  • 14:47 – Balance in the Day

Ready to Sleep Better?

Podcast Episode Transcripts:

Disclaimer: Transcripts were generated automatically and may contain inaccuracies and errors.

Welcome to the Kids Sleep Show, where we help tired parents from around the world to get their children to fall asleep independently, sleep through the night, and build healthy sleep habits for life. I’m your host, Courtney Zentz. Now let’s sleep together. Hey everyone. Happy new year. Courtney’s ends here.

Thank you for tuning into the kids’ sleep show. I am blessed and certainly humbled that you have chosen to join me here. Hopefully, you are finding amazing value in all of these sleep tips that I share with every new episode, right. Always make sure that you shoot me over a message

Send me a DM out on social media, or just let me know what you want to hear more about because I base these episodes based on the questions I get from tired parents like you. And today we are going to kick off this new year by talking about the three changes that you can make in your child’s room. So they get more sleep tonight.

First and foremost, I want to talk a little bit about ambient lighting. I have a lot of parents who say, you know, my baby is scared of the dark. I’m scared of the dark. I can’t see when I’m in there. You know, I don’t know what’s going on or they just have comfort in something like a mobile on that shoots stuff up onto the ceilings.

There’s pillow, pets at nightlights and lava lamps and all sorts of stuff. That’s creating light. In the child’s room. So I want to explain the first thing that sets the foundation for one of those three changes that I’m going to make. So I want to set some foundational elements to what I’m going to share today, as far as the three tips, because I think it’s important.

Parents understand a few things. First, your child’s circadian rhythm is set by light. And by dark, it is not something you can typically change your body [00:02:00] clock does. It starts around three months of age and it sticks with you for life. The easiest way to create a sleep-wake cycle is to use the sun. It’s natural provides that vitamin D and it keeps everything in check.

The problem is when there is artificial light or the sun creeping in at 5:00 AM or the sun not. Setting till 9:00 PM. Right? That can cause a child’s sleep, wake cycles to be off, right. Their body doesn’t recognize that it’s either time to go to bed or thinks it’s time to get up way too early in the morning.

Okay. So the first of the three changes that I want to talk about is turning off nightlights. Your children do not. Eight times out of 10, need a nightlight to sleep. And I’ll explain the two out of 10 times that they do in just a few minutes. Okay. Newborns and infants are not afraid of the dark. Okay. So turn nightlights off in their room.

They’re not helping. They do not need them. If anything, it is hurting you because it’s creating ambient light in a room, children’s sleep best in darkness. Research proves that. Right. And so a lot of times I’ll have parents say, well, look, I have to go in, in the middle of the night to feed them, or I don’t want to trip if I had to change their diaper or, you know, gosh, I really just, you know, sometimes fall asleep in there and I want to make sure I can see them.

So I keep a light on turn the lights off, make it pitch black. I’m telling you your child will sleep better when it is. A bat cave in my kids’ rooms, I have blackout blinds that I got at home Depot. They are cordless blinds. They are essentially almost like an accordion where you slide them down and it’s immediate darkness.

They’re like 40 bucks a window and it creates instant Batcave. I’m a little bit psychotic. So I also have blackout curtains. I blamed the day job and those open as well. So it is like a bat cave in both my kids’ [00:04:00] rooms. They are four and six and it has been that way since. Birth. Okay. Do you want that darkness?

If you must have a nightlight on there are two ways I advise you to do it. The first is going to be to put a light in the hallway that gives you just enough light that if you have to go into the room, That you are able to see, obviously you don’t want to be tripping and falling or hurt yourself, right. As you’re going in there to tend to your little one.

So put the nightlight in the hallway. The other thing I recommend is if you have to have something in the room, right? Like the setup of the outlets is not conducive to having, you know, a nightlight in the hallway in which you can see is to actually use a diaper to cover the light. Right. So some people have like the hatch light that they use as a little nightlight when they go in there.

Some people just actually have a nightlight that, you know, they can click on in there, or some have like a lamp. I had a lamp and I used to use my child’s diaper to cover the lamps. So when I turned it on, it blocked like 90% of the light, but I could still mull around in there and get things done. Um, you know, there’s a lot of different ways you can do it, but just kinda throw a cloth over whatever you turn on.

Like. You want as little as light possible in your child’s room if you should have to tend to them and you don’t want to trip and smash your face on something, right? Otherwise, turn the night lights off. They are distractors. There are again, two out of 10 situations where I would say using nightlights makes sense.

It is not until a child turns typically between three and four years of age, that they may request. With the use of a nightlight, they have to get up to go to the bathroom and they don’t want to fall. They have to get up and maybe look for a stuffed animal. Or frankly, at that age, they’re cognitively aware that it is a pitch dark bat cave in there.

And there may be a little bit of fear or chill that they get not being able to see anything in those cases. I use it very specifically. Nightlights. I like projectables. They are a nightlight you can get at home Depot and target. I’m sure. A million other places I know Amazon sells [00:06:00] them and they’re a beautiful little ball that has a projection of some kind of character.

Right. My son had one, it was Superman. And so that goes up onto his ceiling. And then when I would go to bed, I would go in and actually turn the ball down on the nightlight. And that made the room really, really dark with the teeniest tiniest bit of light that he could get up to pee in the middle of the night.

That was when he was about four years of age. He is now. So he falls asleep, actually reading at night. Uh, so he has one of those lamps that attach, he has bunk beds. So he has a light that attaches under the bunk bed and that, uh, stays on, he falls asleep and then I turn it off. So he then goes back to kind of sleeping in, you know, essentially total darkness if he gets up in the middle of the night and scared has to pee, has to see, he just turns the light on himself.

Does this thing turns the light off when he’s back in bed? Right. So that would be the situation where I would say, okay. It makes sense if your child is a little scared, use something like that. Projectable the other side of that is also a Himalayan sea salt lamp. And you may think I’m Cray Cray, but if you go to Walmart or Amazon, I’m sure target sells them.

Um, they’re about 15 bucks for an, a pink Himalayan sea salt lamp. And I will link to some out in the show notes because this is a beautiful, soft light. It is very, very pink and calming. Okay. We don’t want things that are like blue and crazy. Right. And you can dim it so you can really adjust the level in which you need to see.

And, you know, my daughter falls asleep with that on at night. And then again, I go in, when she’s asleep. And turn it off or turn it all the way down. She still likes a little teeny bit of light and that works beautifully. She goes to bed, doesn’t wake up at all. And then the morning she can get up to pee and do her business.

Right? So nightlights, you really want to just be careful of, to use the balance. Infants and newborns do not need a light. Okay. They just don’t. They just don’t need a light there. No, they’re not afraid of the dark. I promise you. Um, [00:08:00] the next thing is going to be walking around that room. So go into your child’s room.

If you’re listening to this podcast with your earbuds in, walk up there now, and start to assess. If they have a monitor, it has a little light on it. If they’re using some sort of a sleep tracking device that has a light on it. If they’re using some sort of aid humidifier, I used a smoking elephant for my kids that would cause humidity to come out of his little nose or whatever.

I specifically used it when they were sick or in the winter months when it was dry that had a green light on it. Right. And what would I start to notice is when I would go in my kid’s room at like two in the morning, Right and just see what’s going on. Right. Maybe they’re making a fuss or having a bad night, whatever it is.

Right. My kids are human too. It’s like, man, you can legitimately see everything happening in this room. You do not want that cover those lights, take a piece of duct tape, cover the monitor light cover the smoking elephant light cover any of those little ambient lights. There’s one in our bedroom. And it was from the Comcast box.

It was this crazy blue light that was super bright. Right. And we didn’t really watch TV much in our room, but we have a TV in there. And every night this blue light was like blaring in our bedroom. And, um, number one, blue light is a stimulant and number two, it was pretty excessive for being like. The light that shows the, the TV is off.

So I actually just unplugged it because like I said, we, we watched TV in there like twice a month. So when we watch it, we just plug it back in. Cause it was pretty light. So I would suggest, definitely covering the ambient light because that’s going to help. You want to make sure that your child’s room is a sleep sanctuary, right?

When you go to a hotel, if you’re traveling, you don’t like go to sleep for a nap with the windows open and everything on and the TV, like. You turn the stuff off, you put your little fan on your phone app and then you close the blinds, right? And that creates a conducive environment. Like you have to set your body up to help it to prepare and know that it’s time to sleep.

Okay. [00:10:00] The third and final tip is probably the most relevant for toddlers and parents and school aged kids. And that is remote devices, all kinds of stuff. Right. Technology. The blue light that is omitted from technology is dangerous, right? Blue light stimulates daylight. So it’s the same kind of light frequency.

I’m not a scientist, but basically the way it works is, you know, the daylight is a form of blue light, right? Your TVs, your tablets, your computers, your phones, all omit blue light. So the first step is going to be to turn your phone blue light blockers. On they’re typically called night shift. That’s going to prevent really the devices from being stimulating.

You still don’t want to get up at three in the morning and start looking at Instagram because that’s going to stimulate you. Um, but for your kids, especially keep devices out of the bedroom. Do not allow them to watch TV about an hour before bedtime. You have to give their body enough time to prepare, to go to sleep.

And you have to be really careful. I have some clients that will give their kids. Devices in their bedroom so that when they wake up in the morning, they can watch on the iPad and let the parents sleep in. Well, let me explain what’s happening, your kids waking up at four in the morning, cause they want to watch YouTube, right?

So you have to be really careful about the motivation to wake up as well. Just like we get in habits of like, I’m going to check my phone when I get up to pee at 3:00 AM. Right. Kids get in habits too. And so these little devices that could creep their way into our lives, right? Can cause a challenge with sleep and sleep consolidation.

I have not for five years taking my phone to my bedroom. If you need to get ahold of me, you have to call the cops cause I’m not answering it. It is downstairs turned off in the kitchen. I have done that for at least five years. Right. So again, if anybody ever needs me and there’s an emergency, you’re calling the cops.

Cause there was no chance you’re getting me. Right. I create my bedroom as a sleep sanctuary and I encourage all of my clients to do so as well. [00:12:00] You want the bedroom to be a place of calm and rest. Do you want it to be a place of relaxation where children can unwind? And prepare for sleep. The body triggers melatonin when it starts to get dark, right?

There’s a huge misconception about melatonin. And the fact that it’s actually a sleep aid, it is not melatonin is a hormone that prepares the body to sleep. Okay. The easiest analogy I can use is in the Olympics hundred-yard dash, right? There’s the guy that holds the gun to start the race. Fires the gun that is melatonin.

He is not running in the race. He is simply starting it. Melatonin is needed to prepare your body to go to sleep and it’s triggered by darkness. Right? So creating that conducive environment, that consistent routine, that’s not overcrowded by devices and such is going to be super helpful for you. As far as you know, those remote devices and keeping things out of the bedrooms, phones, tablets.

You know, computers all of the above, right. We just get into this like heavy world of electronics, especially with the holidays being over lots of new gadgets running around. Um, I got my daughter something that I actually used as a child. It was like the, I forget the name of it now, but it’s blanking me like, but it was like a little egg and it was on a little.

Key chain and you had to feed it and if it pooped, you had to clean it up. Sometimes it would sleep. So you had to turn the light off and then you were kind of responsible for growing this like little thing. And it was kind of a little game. Um, I got it for her. I got annoyed. Cause it kept going off after like, I don’t know, 20 minutes, it kept beeping and I’m like, Oh my gosh, it pooped.

I got it. You know, change it. And I finally just turned it off and hit it. I was like, okay, she’s too young to understand. And I’m annoyed by this beeping. So I hit it. Like, we’ll get it. We’ll get it back to you in a year from now, because she was just a little too young for it. But those types of devices, right.

They show up in the bedroom and then all of a sudden, you know, your kids waking up, we actually have walkie-talkies in our kids’ room and I’ll be damned if the other night my, uh, daughter [00:14:00] didn’t turn hers. Off. So at like three in the morning, I hear this excessive loud walkie-talkie in my office where she left it.

It was still turned on, but the battery had died and it just started blaring, like battery dying woke me up from a solid sleep. Flew out of my room and into the office to turn the thing off. I was so mad. I didn’t fall back to sleep. They never woke up luckily, but you know, it’s all kind of stuff like that.

You just got to pace like super careful attention to because, um, you know, it can wake them up and it’s, it’s stimulating. So that could be the reason that your children are not sleeping. So those three changes you can implement tonight to help your kids sleep. Better. You always want to balance things like over tired, right?

Making sure your kid’s getting the right amount of sleep at the right time. And as I always talk about, I have a bazillion free tools that I give clients, right. Probably more so than any paid subscription or service or consultant or ebook. Or taking care of stuff that you have. Uh, you can go out to my website, tiny forward slash tools, and you’re going to see everything.

There’s a schedule generator out there. Uh, there is a link to my free training that I do. I’ve got the next one kicking off on January 11th. It’s a five day free sleep training mini-series. I have sample nap generators. I have. EBooks and short naps and early wakings and links and just download after download ideal awake windows, a baby dressing guide.

I mean, you name it guys. Like it’s out there for you. Toddler reward charts. Like I have a whole page of just free stuff. So go out and check it out. Um, and hopefully you get a little bit more sleep tonight knowing that you’ve made some of these changes. Um, remember. A kid’s room should be like a bat cave and you want to create a sleep sanctuary.

So again, if you have any questions, thank you so much for tuning into the kids’ sleep show until next episode, have a beautiful day and leave the rest to me. [00:16:00] Hold on one more thing. Before you go as a valuable listener of the kids sleep show, I want to help you build a great sleeper, not just in the times, you’re listening to the show, but all day, every day, every week of the year, I have a new Facebook group called slumber, made simple.

It’s a place to gather with other parents looking for sleep support. Laughs. And the latest in sleep research to build a family that is rested and at their best day in and day out. If you want to be part of the community where you can get free sleep support, weekly training sessions, unbelievable content, and so much more head on over to tiny forward slash community that’s tiny transition stuff com forward slash community.

Or head over to Facebook and search Slumber Made Simple, drop me a note. And let me know when you join. I can’t wait to see you there.

There are 3 changes you can make today in your child’s room to get more sleep tonight. First, we discuss the use of night lights in a child’s room, something I see frequently as a sleep consultant.  Next, we discuss ambient lighting from the gadgets, timers, monitors, etc that are emitted from devices. Finally, we […]