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4 Reasons Your Child will Sleep Better in a Dark Room

general troubleshooting Sep 20, 2021

    My name is Mica. I am a certified sleep consultant and founder of Rested Mama, Happy Baby. I help families on their journey to establish healthy sleep habits and get the whole family sleeping again! You have likely seen many tips everywhere to have a dark room for optimal sleep.  There are a ton of opinions on this including whether you need to have a dark room for naps or if you’re training your child to be ‘inflexible.’ Below I have included four, evidence-based, reasons most children thrive in dark rooms. 

 

4 Reasons Your Child will Sleep Better in a Dark Room

 

1. It's what they are used to: 

   The truth is that babies thrive in dark rooms because that’s what they are used to in the womb.  In most cases, children are hardwired to prefer a dark room over a lighter room.

 

2. What would you prefer? 

   Think about what you prefer.  If you could sleep in a room with full windows and no coverings, versus the room with black-out shades, which would you sleep better in?  Likely, the one that’s mostly dark. 

 

3. Melatonin, the sleepy hormone: 

 Children, just as adults in the pineal gland, produce a sleepy hormone called Melatonin when it is dark.  Conversely, it’s inhibited when there is light.  This means that when the room is dark, or when the sun naturally sets, we’re triggered to start creating Melatonin so we can wind down to prepare for bedtime and sleep.  When light starts to creep in we start to produce cortisol, which we will call the awake hormone.  This is a natural reaction to light. 

 

4. Avoid early morning wakings and short naps:

   In the first few months of life, you may not see this to be much of a problem as babies do not have a regulated biological clock or regulate their own production of Melatonin for a few months.  However, as they develop and mature in their sleep cycles, you might see that your child may start having shorter naps and waking early mornings with the rise of the sun. In addition to developing independent sleep skills, light peaking through rooms is a major culprit to early morning wakings.   It can make a huge improvement in sleep with such a small change.

 

 

So how dark is dark enough?

   The room should be so dark that you are unable to see the hand in front of you.  The darker, the better.  Now if you need to have a light, I recommend the Hatch and setting it to a red color which does not inhibit Melatonin.

 

   In the comment section below, let me know how dark your child's room is and what your favorite room darkening products are, homemade or store-bought! Sleep well!

 

 

Exhaustion is optional, 

Rested Mama, Happy Baby Founder

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