If you’re like most new parents, you’re probably eagerly awaiting the morning you wake up to find your baby finally slept through the night!
And by “sleep through the night,” we’re talking a stretch of 5-6 hours (not 8-10) because babies aren’t biologically meant to sleep all through the night, right?
So you’re probably doing all you can to help soothe and calm and ease your baby into a night of blissful, uninterrupted sleep. You’re feeding and diaper changing. You’re reading and cuddling. You’re dressing and tucking. You’ve got a process. A routine. A rhythm.
Then you put them down to sleep and do the worst thing you could possibly do – turn on the nightlight!
What’s wrong with a nightlight?
According to this Harvard Health Letter:
“Until the advent of artificial lighting, the sun was the major source of lighting, and people spent their evenings in (relative) darkness. Now, in much of the world, evenings are illuminated, and we take our easy access to all those lumens pretty much for granted.
But we may be paying a price for basking in all that light. At night, light throws the body’s biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack. Sleep suffers. Worse, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.”
Newborns are still developing their circadian rhythms and need your help. Being close to your body as much as possible, sleeping in total darkness at night, and sleeping in bright daylight during the day is the fastest way to help your newborn develop this rhythm.
Also, melatonin, the hormone that influences our circadian rhythms, increases in the evenings. It’s how our body knows it’s time to sleep. However, melatonin is suppressed by exposure to light, especially the blue light of TVs, computer screens, tablets, and cell phones.
Babies are primal, biologically driven creatures. Tiny things can impact the hormones guiding their body. Little things like a blue, white, or green nightlight can disrupt their biological rhythms. They need these rhythms to be stable in order to be happy, healthy, playful little human beings.
And melatonin isn’t just about sleep:
“Melatonin is essential to the regulation of reproduction, body weight, and energy balance…In other words, if you don’t get enough darkness, you have a very good chance of ending up tired, cranky, listless, out of whack, and possibly obese.” (via Mother Earth News)
But you NEED a nightlight, you say? Well, you can have one. Just stay away from the white and blue light spectrums and go RED instead!
“Red or amber light doesn’t appear to wreck melatonin and sleep as much as blue or white light.” (source)
Now, this isn’t a make-your-baby-sleep-through-the-night magic trick. But let’s not undo all the work you did getting them to sleep in the first place, right? As we all know, a well-rested baby is a happy baby. Happy babies make happy parents!