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Sleeping With The Lights On

Expert Q&A

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Updated February 09, 2008

Q. My partner has a four year old daughter who sleeps with the light on all night when she is at home with her mother. I had put a stop to this when she came to our house, but the mother of the child said that if it's what the child wants, then it's fine. I am trying to convince him that having the light is harming his daughter as children (and adults) don't sleep properly with a light on. He is not convinced however and i am left with trying to find out the documentation to support my claim, which brings me to this letter. I keep finding that there should be darkness in the place of sleep but not the reason behind that on a website. Please help me with a website that i can find this information or let me know the facts behind children and lights. Naomi, Queensland, Australia

A. By 'sleeps with the light on,' I am assuming you mean that she is sleeping with her regular, bright, bedroom light on and not a dim night light, which shouldn't cause any problems...

The only real harm would be if it were interfering with her sleep. If she sleeps well and is well rested the next day, then it may not be a big issue.

Experts are recognizing that not getting enough sleep can have significant effects on children. In addition to appearing sleepy, they may have a short attention span, be hyperactive, or irritable.

Is she having any of these problems?

You are right that most people should sleep in the dark or in a dimly lit room. The reason is that melatonin, a natural hormone that our body produces and which helps stimulate our going to sleep, can be inhibited by bright light.

Here are some websites where you can get more information about melatonin and sleep:

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