Sleep is one the most important factors in achieving physical wellbeing. Newborns to 6 months of age, should sleep up to 20 hours a day, including naps. Children from 6 months to 3 ½ years of age should sleep between 11 and 13 hours a night, as well as the necessary day time naps.
In the evening, the reason you and your child start to feel sleepy is because your body is starting to produce Melatonin which is also known as the sleep hormone. Melatonin is a small gland in the brain which helps to control your sleep and wake cycles, levels rise in mid to late evening, remain high for most of the night and drop in the early hours of the morning.
Many of the items which have now become common place in our daily lives could be affecting your child’s ability to fall asleep, such as televisions, laptops, iPads and Kindles. Letting your children relax in front of the television before bed could be doing more harm than good.
How does light affect me and my child’s sleep pattern?
Light is made up of a spectrum of colours. The blue light in the spectrum is best known for enhancing attention, therefore making you feel more awake. If your child is exposed to blue light from screens on the television, computer, phone, iPad or similar gadget this will suppress the Melatonin production and therefore delay them feeling sleepy. In simple terms if they are exposed to this at night time it works against their body clock.
What can I do about it?
There are solutions to this and adopting simple measures will improve your child’s ability to fall asleep. If it is practical turn down the house lights at least an hour before you go to bed, this should help stimulate Melatonin production and help you to start feeling drowsy.
There are also several low blue light products available to buy on the market today. These were created by a group of scientists with more than 100 years of experience. The products work by reducing or in some cases removing the blue light:
- Sleep glasses. These come in children sizes and there are various frames to choose from. It is recommended that these be worn for between 1 and 3 hours before bedtime. They work by blocking the blue light which helps the Melatonin develop.
- Night lights with a special low blue light bulb. This is ideal for bedside lamps and reading lamps in the bedroom.
- Screen covers can be purchased to fit almost all modern gadgets to reduce blue light.
Recent tests have shown that children getting less than the recommended amount of sleep have lower IQs and are also more likely to be obese. By making simple lifestyle changes, implementing a regular sleep routine and investing in some of the low blue light products mentioned, your child’s sleeping habits can be much improved. In a relatively short period of time this will improve your child and your whole families health and general wellbeing.