Dr Mark Rosenthal

MD MB ChB FRCP FRCPCH BSc

Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine

also specialist in Food Allergies & Disorders of Sleep

A | A | A

T: 0207 351 8832

E: s.harvey@rbht.nhs.uk

A:The Royal Brompton Hospital, London, SW3 6NP

Is Your Child’s Bedroom Too Light?

It might seem obvious, but keeping your child’s bedroom dark is one of the best ways to prevent sleep disorders in children. Anything from a bright light to a dim screen in the corner can cause sleep problems.

How Light Affects Children’s Sleep?

Too much light at bedtime can have a significant impact on children’s sleep. Exposure to light can suppress melatonin levels by up to 90% and disrupt the body clock. It can make it more difficult to drop off to sleep and it can also result in poorer quality sleep during the night. All kinds of light can have some effect on sleep quality. During the summer months, the longer hours of daylight can make it harder to fall asleep while also waking children up too early in the morning. Other sources of light in the bedroom can also influence sleep disorders in children. Lamps, screens, nightlights, and even the small lights on electronic devices that aren’t being used can all cause problems. However, certain types of light are worse than others. The blue light that comes from computer, smart phone and TV screens is the worst as it has the biggest impact on melatonin levels.

What You Can Do About It?

Ensuring that the bedroom is as dark as possible is one of the best ways to tackle sleep disorders in children:

  • Use blackout blinds or heavy curtains to block out any outside light, especially if the bedroom gets a lot of evening or early morning sun.
  • Keep screens such as laptops, tablets and TVs out of the bedroom. It will help you to limit screentime and to keep the bedroom as a dark, peaceful space with no distractions.
  • Take a look around the room with the lights off. You might spot some tiny lights that you didn’t realise were there, for example on alarm clocks or extension cables.
  • Remember that lights outside the bedroom can leak in around the door. Having a dimmer switch on the landing is a good way to limit the effect.
  • If your child won’t sleep without a nightlight, choose one that gives off a soft yellowish light as this will be the most restful.