We all love our sleep, and when a baby comes on the scene it’s undeniable that sleep becomes a very precious, scarce and much longed-for commodity and we’re all desperate for more!
Did you know?
- Sleep is vital for baby’s development and growth.
- It’s scientifically proven that the type of light you use at bedtime and during the night wakings with baby, can have a serious impact on their sleep (and yours!)
- Sleep deprivation is linked to physical and mental illness – in fact has been used as a form of torture!
And let’s not forget that we’re all cranky when we’re tired!
The kind of light you use before, or during bedtime, is key to your baby’s sleep.
Way back when, in caveman times, pre-electricity, the sun was the only form of lighting.
People went to bed with the orange glow of sunset, and subsequent darkness.
People woke up with the sunrise when it was light, and a white or blue sky.
It’s not natural to extend the day with artificial lighting, but of course it’s not practical to sit in pitch-black darkness all evening. And we all need some kind of lighting to see what we’re doing at night with baby, whether it’s feeding, changing a nappy or taking their temperature.
Bad light, blue light
We’ve heard lots of stories about what parents often use at night to see what they’re doing: phone torches, head torches(!), bedside lamps covered in muslin, the list of unsuitable ways to light the night is endless. Some are dangerous, some are dazzling, but all usually contain the ‘wrong kind of light’ - ‘blue light’ - which by the way, isn’t necessarily blue, it’s present in white light too and is part of the white light spectrum, tricking our brains to thinking it’s daytime. Blue light is also present in many household lighting products, as well as screens, TVs, and smart phones.
Exposure to blue light suppresses the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, increasing alertness at night, night time waking and also impacting on the body’s circadian rhythm, (which regulates your body clock) – not what you want when you’re desperate for sleep!
Infants eyes let in more light and are much more sensitive than adults’ eyes and so just a short blast of bright light can suppress melatonin and its sleep promoting effect. No screens at least 2 hours before bedtime is ideal and should be the norm.
Good light – golden light
So, if blue light is so bad, what is the ‘right kind of light’?
Well, as little light as possible is the best-case scenario. However, on a practical level, we need just enough night at bedtime and for night time wakings to see what we’re doing, but not so much that it over-stimulates baby or parents.
The ideal night light is one that emits a gentle golden glow and can be super dim, so baby isn’t overstimulated.
The bedtime routine and the nightshift with baby and light...
Prepare the room:
Create a calm, and quiet environment which can be made fully dark - a blackout blind is effective, and for double protection, curtains with black out lining too.
Neutral walls are important and no over-stimulating toys or noise.
Daytime exposure to daylight and fresh air are important – avoid being in the house all day or under artificial light.
No screens (including TV) 2 hours before bedtime. We know it’s easy to give your infant a screen to play with or pop them in front of the TV while you clean up after dinner, but try to avoid this exposure to blue light.
- Make bath time gentle, chilled and relaxing. If possible dim the lights – bathroom lighting can be very bright and over-stimulating.
- Once dressed for bed, gently unwind and read a story with the bedroom lights dimmed and curtains drawn.
- Dim the lights a bit more (or turn them off altogether and just use a golden night light) for the last feed.
- Continue with cuddles and night-nights with the room barely lit to create a sleep inducing, cosy atmosphere.
- Final goodnight and lights out completely or leave a night light like Meelight on, on the dimmest light level using the 30min timer.
If you have to get up for baby in the night, whatever you do:
- Keep the light’s low and the atmosphere calm and remember:
- Don’t turn the main light on!
- Don’t use a screen or smart phone!
And remember, it may be tough now, but one day your baby will be a teenager, and they’ll lie-in until lunchtime!
At Meemoobaby, they take sleep seriously! Meelight is the perfect night light and is also wearable, leaving parents hands-free to concentrate on the task in hand - it includes a 30 min timer option too.
Find out more about Meemoobaby here.