For those of you with kids, you will be all too aware of how those bright summer mornings and evenings can lead to early waking and late sleeping times. If your little ones are struggling to sleep on lighter summer mornings and evenings, there are a number of solutions to create a better environment to help your children drift off and sleep the full night through.
No blue light an hour before bed time
In the modern age of technology, people relax by watching TV, browsing online, reading an eBook and so on. Lately, scientists have been warning of the use of light-emitting devices before bed time. Charles Czeisler, a professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School argues that exposure to artificial light during the evening and at night could block the effects of brain cells that help promote feelings of sleepiness and melatonin, the ‘sleep hormone’1.
This is because the light from our devices is ‘short-wavelength enriched’, meaning it has a higher concentration of blue light than natural light. Blue light affects levels of melatonin more than every other wavelength. So, by reducing the amount of time that your children look at backlit screens before bedtime could mean that they fall asleep easier and earlier.
Reduce Light in the Room
Your child’s bedroom doesn’t have to be completely plunged into darkness, but you don’t want sunlight to be streaming in either. Use blackout blinds where possible as this will reduce potentially early wake-ups. Early waking in the morning can be caused by natural light entering the room, so keeping the room dark in the mornings can encourage a later wake up time.
Additionally, if possible, have the bed facing away from a window to avoid the rays of light around the edges. Draw your curtains and blinds before they get ready for bed so the lights are kept low, as it will help them to wind down for sleep.
You might consider offering a later bedtime and control your child’s exposure to light and darkness. Provide nice, bright light into the evening up until about 15 -30 minutes before bedtime and then dim lights. Create as much darkness in the morning as possible by using blackout blinds or heavy curtains.
Help your child to be healthy and fit. Too much TV watching, blue light as mentioned earlier and a lack of activity prevents a good sleep. Children who get ample daily exercise fall asleep more quickly, sleep better, stay asleep longer and will wake up feeling refreshed.
However, try to avoid activity in the hour before bedtime, since exercise is also stimulating.
1Do iPads and electric lights disturb sleep? http://www.nhs.uk/news/2013/05May/Pages/Do-iPads-and-electric-lights-disturb-sleep.aspx