I have been more exposed to the extraordinary volume of children who sleep in lighted rooms in the last year or two. With the onset of sleep overs in my children’s life, and the growth of those numbers, I have been amazed at how many kids “require” light. And sadly, how few adults understand how bad this is.
I can understand though… “light or dark, who cares as long as you are asleep?”
Well, the reality is that not all sleep is the same, just ask the 60 year old who is hitting that time of managing a prostate that wants to be relieved, or a night sweat/hot flash that shoots through the roof. Sleep that is interrupted is no good, likewise, sleep that is not deep is no good.
Melatonin and Serotonin. Two hormones that largely work in opposition, or in another way of looking at it, they are the balance of harmony of a restful night. There is so much value in the dark room, because this balance is dependent on it.
Melatonin will increase as day passes to night, and it will elevate to a nice high level as you lay sleeping in a dark room. However, the most seemingly insignificant amount of light, passes through the lids of the eyes, stimulating the rods of the retina. This will increase the serotonin levels, as they elevate mood, wakefulness, and reduce the feeling of depression which is all part of the sleep cycle (not clinical depression, the depressive state of the nervous system).
If you are stimulating your serotonin throughout the night, it is very difficult to get a truly deep sleep, it is difficult to actually fully recover the body. So darken the room.
Many parents tend to let their kids sleep with some light because the kids demand it. First off, parents are in control. Just like diet, your kids are not in control. I have helped dozens of parents take control of their children’s diets once they have given this control away. Likewise, I have helped them capture it with light in a room.
If your child sleeps with a light on, cut it back. Then turn it off once they fall asleep. Over the course of a few weeks, you will be able to get it down to nothing. Cutting it back means taking the brightness as well as the volume down. You aren’t doing a great job of insuring the rods are not stimulated if there is a BRIGHT sliver of light coming in the room. Be sure to take the brightness out. A mild aura of a night light coming through a crack in a door a room away, is more the speed that you want to be working with. Then, get rid of that.
Likewise for you parents, if you want to recover well, get all light out of your room. Clocks need to be ones that are completely dark unless you press a button to turn the time on. Minimize the amount of radiation that is present by turning phones to airplane mode.
Sleep for your health!
Be well and be blessed! – Dr. E