Rested Mamas Are Happy Mamas: Light and Sleep
We've all been there...the time changes an hour ahead or an hour behind, and we are stuck with kids who can't get a full night of sleep anymore. Or the summer is in full force, meaning the sun is going down well after bedtime, and coming up way before it's time to be awake causing our children to fight bedtime like crazy! What is a mom to do?!So what's the deal folks? Why does the light create such a problem for some kids?
Now, I say SOME kids because even though we'll talk about some very science-y stuff in a minute, it just seems that some kids do better with a little bit of light, like a nightlight, to go to sleep. They think that it's too dark, or too scary, or some combination of a million things you may never think about the dark.
My daughter never says the dark is scary, but for some reason, HAS to have a light on all night. If she wakes up and the light is off, she will cry and scream for it to be on. Does it really affect her sleep though? For her, I don't think so. She seems to go to bed just fine, and sleeps in JUST FINE. Most of the time she is waking up well after her sisters and I have woken up, no matter what the sun/time is doing. But her sisters? That's a whole different story.
Your body produces a hormone called Melatonin that regulates your body's internal circadian clock. In the evening, as it becomes dark, your levels increase, prompting your body to sleep. As it becomes light, melatonin decreases and allows you to become alert.
Because this is a very real thing, some children may not be able to sleep properly with the lights on. If your child seems to be having this issue (hello 5:30 a.m. wake time!), try some black out curtains! If you can't get curtains up, try a large piece of cardboard in the window to shut the morning light out. However, remember that your children will need light to be fully awake, so plan on letting light come into the room a little before you want them to wake up. This way, their bodies will increase Melatonin, and help them wake up alert and ready for the day AT THE PROPER TIME.
If you're having the opposite problem (our children won't go to sleep until it's dark outside), again, use blackout curtains. And you may even want to invest in a dimmer switch. Start dimming the lights in their room (closing the curtains a bit, or using a dimmer switch) about a half hour before you want them to go to sleep, then completely shut them when it's time for bed. You can try leaving the lights a little low while reading them books, then shutting all light out when you're done. If you can get their bodies to naturally increase/decrease Melatonin, your chances of them going to bed/waking up on time are much higher.
So try a few of these things, then come back and leave a comment! Was the light your child's issue after all?
Good luck mamas! I hope you're getting enough rest in no time!
- Mama Jackie
*Sleep is essential. We need sleep to function, to take care of our children, to keep up on every single task life throws at us, to keep our sanity. Are you getting your eight hours or do you have a baby who is keeping you up? Let’s remedy that! In the “Rested Mamas are Happy Mamas” series of our blog, sleep expert Jackie calms all of your sleep woes. Have a question or problem that needs fixing? Comment on the series, and Jackie will address your specific problem!* Featured Image PC: @jessiicawillis