Sleeping with a nightlight is a common practice for many people, both children and adults. Even if the lights aren’t directly in the room, they will be around the house and showing light within the room as you sleep. While a low light might not seem to cause any harm, it may be hurting the quality of your sleep at night. So, the question is: Is it okay to sleep with a nightlight on?
Do Night Lights Have Any Effect on Sleep?
We know from a wide range of studies that light has a noticeable effect on your body in terms of sleep and restfulness. Your body has a natural rhythm that revolves around the level of light around you. If the environment around you is dark, you will begin to feel more tired and will want to sleep. When light is present, your body will begin to wake up and become more active.
Night lights are not a strong enough light to make your body wake up on its own, in many cases, but they are strong enough to throw off your sleep patterns. It’s been shown that nightlights can be detrimental to your sleep state, and may force you to stay in a lighter sleep state than your body needs for ideal rest.
The Relationship Between Light and Sleep
Nightlights don’t only keep you in a lighter sleep state, but they can also make it more difficult for you to wake up in the morning. Ideally, your body will sleep best in almost complete darkness. This makes it easy for your brain to know when to start the process of waking up, because the light of morning will be the first light it encounters overnight.
Your brain is naturally programmed to sleep in the dark and to be awake in the light. That’s why you may find it hard to sleep in late in the morning unless you have blackout curtains and other light-cancelling measures, since your body can pick up even the smallest traces of light while you’re sleeping.
If you want to sleep better at night, you will probably need to consider getting rid of your nightlight or coming up with a new way to help yourself sleep better at night. There are other options that do not provide constant light, so you will be able to sleep better during the night while still having the light you need to get up at night.
Alternative Options to Nightlights
If you like to sleep with a nightlight or some other source of light during the night, you do have some options that won’t affect you the same way:
Modern wake up light alarm clocks usually have a built-in sunset simulation feature. This is a great option for those who like night lights, because it does not stay on all night and it works will the natural circadian rhythm to help your body sleep. Instead of staying lit up all night, the sunset simulation will gradually turn off.
A sunset simulation starts off very brightly and dims as it goes on. After around 30 minutes, it turns completely off. This way you get the light in the room at night to help you fall asleep, but it won’t be on at night to disturb you as you as resting.
Motion Sensing Nightlights
Another option is a motion-sensing nightlight. These are not useful if you like to have light in the room to help you sleep, but they are perfect for those that just want to the light when getting up in the dark. For instance, these are great for navigating bathrooms and hallways in the dark. They will also not disturb your sleep, as they will turn off when you have laid back down in bed again.
White or yellow light is sometimes worse for you than different colors of light. The consensus seems to be that green and blue light are some of the softest colors that will not disturb your sleep. Using nightlights with bulbs in these colors may be able to help you get the same benefits of a normal nightlight without triggering your brain to wake up or stay in a lighter sleep cycle.
Nightlights are not the best thing to help kids or adults at night. Although they can be useful, it’s not a good idea to start using them unless you have no other choice. A better option is to use the sunset simulation on a wake up light alarm or to choose a nightlight that won’t hinder your normal sleep rhythm.