Does Blue Light Affect Sleep for Kids?
When you become a parent one of the biggest things you tend to miss from your former life is sleep. Wrangling your kids into bed at a decent hour even as they move past the baby phase can be real challenging. Did you know that blue light at night might be one of the factors in why your kids have trouble getting a good night’s sleep?
What Is Blue Light?
Blue light is a type of light that is emitted by electronics like tablets and smart phones as well as many types of artificial lighting like your child’s nightlight. Electronics are such a mainstay in our lives that we probably don’t realize all the ways they can affect our health.
How It Affects Your Child?
Here is some ways blue light may affect sleep for kids. Studies have shown that blue wavelengths in contrast to other colors of light boosts attention helping your focus better and can even improve your mood, which is all good during the daytime but can impede your sleep at night. When your child goes to sleep with his or her smartphone or tablet by the bed or if they have a blue light nightlight, it could be affecting the quantity and quality of sleep. In simplest terms, the blue light is telling your child it is not bedtime yet. The blue light reaches the brain through your child’s eyes and sends messages to the circadian clock in the brain which regulates our wake and sleep cycles that it is time to be awake.
One study has also suggested that blue light can also mess up the body’s production of melatonin, a sleep hormone. While all lights suppress melatonin to some degree, blue light is the biggest culprit and affects the body twice as much as green light.
Why Is Sleep so Important?
The most important thing to remember is that your child’s nighttime antics is more than just a nuisance in the evening. It keeps both you and your child from getting a good night’s sleep which is important for your health. Study upon study has shown that sleep deprivation is a risk factor for serious diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. While most parents see a lack of sleep as a sort of badge of honor, lack of sleep on a regular basis will build up is bad and start to affect your mood, focus and performance during the day as well as make you more susceptible to physical illness and anxiety and depression. If your child is also not getting a good night sleep, you will also see them suffering in the same ways.
Eliminate Sources of Blue Light at Night
The best way to eliminate sources of blue light at night is to ban electronics from the bedroom not just your kids’ but yours as well. This is probably one of the hardest for people to stick to. We are all so tethered to our electronics with our cellphones and social media, especially if you are on them for work as well as fun. Even if it is a part of your livelihood to stay connected 24/7, it is better for your health if you set aside time each day away from electronics.
What might help your child even more is to not only ban electronics from the bedroom at night, but to cut off their electronic time at least two to three hours before bedtime so their mind and body starts to prepare for bed. If your child will only sleep with a night light then find one that emits a red or orange light which doesn’t affect sleep as much as a blue light does.
Here are some other nightly routines for better sleep for both you and your child:
- Do some relaxation exercises. Stress and anxiety are probably the biggest reasons people have trouble falling asleep at night. And while not all worries can be easily resolved, practices like yoga, meditation and mindfulness can help you manage them better and keep them in perspective. Do it as a family before your kids’ bedtime as way to signal to the body that it is not to sleep.
- Read before bed. This tip really depends on the individual. If you or your child tend to get so enthralled in the book that you can’t put it down and end up reading into the wee hours of the morning, then reading before bed might not be for you. However, if you find reading in bed relaxing then go for it. Just set a limit for how long you are going to read and most importantly stick to it! When it comes to your kids make sure you keep track how long they are reading in bed and make sure you tell them when it turn the lights out.
- Listen to music. One exception from the electronic ban could be music. Whether it is a clock radio or a stereo, if music soothes you or your child and helps shut the brain off, then there is nothing wrong with listening to music to fall asleep. One caveat is to not use headphones. You do not want music pumping into your ear all night long. Try a CD on the stereo instead that will eventually shut off. Having music play all night could potentially wake your child up mid sleep cycle..
- Exercise regularly. Exercise not only helps you maintain a healthy bodyweight, it keeps your muscles toned and helps battle stress and anxiety. Making sure the whole family gets some exercise every day. Although this can be difficult to do with everyone’s hectic schedules, scheduling family exercise time could be a good bonding experience.
- Evaluate your mattress. Mattresses usually only last for up to 10 years so if you find that your bed or your child’s bed is just not comfortable anymore, it might be time to replace your mattresses. Comfy pillows and an uncluttered, inviting bedroom can also set the mood for a good night’s sleep.
For more information about how to get a good night’s sleep, contact Harleysville Mattress today and talk to their sleep experts.