Our ancestors lived in a world where they woke up and went to bed with the sun; however, electricity has changed how we live our lives without necessarily changing our biology.
The fact of the matter is that we cannot make our children fall asleep, especially not if they are feeling wide awake at bedtime. Bedtime routines become much easier and less stressful when you get a little help from you child’s natural biological rhythms, which means that you need to be careful of how you are using lights before and during bedtime.
Dim Lights in the Evening
Darkness is the biological “stop” button because it causes an increase in the release of the body’s natural sleep hormone, melatonin. You can help align your child’s sleepiness with bedtime by simply dimming the lights in your home. Evenings can be calm, soothing, and cozy in a dimly lit setting that signals to your child that his bedtime is approaching.
Choose Night Lights Carefully
Studies have shown that the light of a 100-watt bulb held 10 feet away is powerful enough to reset your biological clock! Yikes! If you need to use a night light, make sure that you choose one that is small and dim. You do not want to signal to your child that it is morning when in reality those diaper changes, feedings, potty breaks, and water requests are happening in the middle of the night.
Reduce Outside Light
Light-blocking curtains or shades or even cardboard boxes that fit within the windows can be helpful in minimizing outside light. The goal is to keep out light from streetlights, car lights flickering past, or even the neighbor’s kitchen lights so that you can prevent your child from waking in the middle of the night or earlier in the morning than you’d like.
For more tips on how to improve your child’s sleep read The No-Cry Sleep Solution.