The first night after we brought Rhys home from the hospital he barely slept at all. I was up with him pretty much all night, absolutely exhausted. Which it turned out is a really common experience with newborns.
They don’t have any concept of night and day when they’re first born. So one of our first jobs as parents is to try and set their little body clocks and get them to be more awake during the day and sleep more at night.
Light plays a huge part in this, and throughout our lives it’s so important for a good night’s sleep.
We should be exposed to natural light as much as possible during the day. Exposure to sunlight increases the levels of serotonin in our brains, making us feel calmer and happier and more awake.
In the summer it’s often easier to make sure we get enough natural light as we tend to be out and about a bit more.
But lots of people find it harder in the winter, and seasonal affective disorder is really quite common. If you find that you’re suffering with the lack of natural light in the mornings to wake you up and get you going, then something like the Lumie body clock can be a great option for keeping your body clock on track and your mood lifted.
As the day goes on and we get closer to bedtime, we should be reducing the amount of light we’re exposed to.
Our bodies naturally produce a hormone called melatonin in the evenings, which prepares our bodies for sleep and makes us feel sleepy. The thing is, too much light can suppress the body’s production of melatonin.
So to keep our body clocks on track it’s really important to try and keep lights dim at bedtime, and throughout the night as much as possible.
Adults might want to try sleeping with a light-blocking sleep mask on to stop as much light as possible reaching their eyes. For children’s rooms black out blinds are a great option to stop natural evening light or artificial light from street lamps creeping in and disturbing sleep. There are so many different designs now for blinds, you can choose something that fits your child’s room like these Star Wars blinds from Velux.
If you have a little one who is scared of sleeping in complete darkness you might need to have a night light in their room. If you can, try and find one that emits red light rather than blue light, as it’s less disruptive to our circadian rhythms. The same goes for bedside lamps, if you might need to turn one on in the middle of the night to care for your baby, then try and get a light that emits a red light rather than blue.
Remember too that electronic devices with bright screens can affect us too so try to turn off the tv/computer about an hour before you need to go to sleep, and resist the urge to scroll through Facebook on your phone in bed before you drift off.
Easier said than done I know, but you really might find the quality of your sleep improves you step away from the bright lights of electronics at bedtime.
Disclaimer – this is a collaborative post