Why My Kids Don’t Have a Night Light

Why Our Kids Don't Have a Nightlight and yours shouldn't either

I’ve written several times about the importance of sleep to overall health. One important aspect of this is to optimize the sleep environment and sleep in complete darkness. I’ve gotten emails from readers who noticed a profound difference in their sleep quality and energy/attitude by making this simple change (such as turning off the ever present night light). Please pardon me while I get on a soap box for a few minutes.

The Night Light: What’s the Problem?

Exposure to light during the night has been implicated in depression, increased cancer risk and decreased hormone function. As this post explains:

“Light inhibits the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that naturally promotes sleep. “Even if you doze off, light can be detected through your eyelids—and your brain won’t produce melatonin if it’s confused between night and day,” says Joyce Walsleben, PhD, associate professor at the New York University School of Medicine. ‘You want as much darkness in your bedroom as you can handle without tripping over things.'”

A good (cool and dark) night time environment is vital for hormone health, yet we often put lights in kids’ rooms. Only within the last 100 years has this even been a possibility. Before that, there was a natural cycle of light and darkness and while people might have had candles or lamps after dark, there would not have been lights on all night.

More and more research is emerging that shows a link between night time exposure to light and health problems. From this post:

“A report published by the CDC 11 years ago showed some fascinating evidence linking lack of sleep to cancer. The study reported that profoundly blind women had less than half the breast cancer risk of women with normal vision and profoundly blind men had less than half the risk of prostate, lung, colon and other cancers as normally sighted men.

Even more interesting, this reduced risk of cancer was not present in those who were legally blind but could still see light.

This led researchers to investigate the link between exposure to light (especially after the sun has gone down) and rates of disease.

Further studies revealed that night shift workers have higher rates of many diseases and that blue and green types of lights (from computers, TVs, alarm clocks, mobile phones, etc.) are the worst offenders.”

Importance for Kids

Night time light exposure can decrease sleep quality, but it can also shorten the duration of sleep, leading to further problems:

“Moreover Dr. Phyllis C. Zee, the director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital reports:

“There is growing evidence for a link between sleep duration and childhood obesity… [P]erhaps even more important than sleep duration is the effect of day to day variability of sleep wake timing on weight regulation.””

Harvard Medical School echoes some important reasons to get enough sleep:

  1. “Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.
  2. Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
  3. Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and mistakes such as medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.
  4. Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.
  5. Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.
  6. Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.”

The research I’ve seen shows that white and blue lights are especially harmful at night since these are the same colors of light that the body would be exposed to during the day and they trick the body in to thinking it is day time.

What to Do About It

Making the change to complete darkness as an adult is a relatively easy process that mainly involves figuring out how to make the bedroom dark. The process isn’t always so easy for children, especially for children who are used to a night light or who have a fear of the dark.

With all the research showing the importance of night time darkness, I felt strongly that this was something I wanted my kids to do. It took a little time to get all of the kids used to sleeping in darkness, but we finally have.

We converted our kids’ bedrooms to better sleep environments by:

  • Removing night lights, alarm clocks, etc
  • Keeping the house cooler at night to facilitate better sleep
  • Covering windows with blackout curtains to cover artificial light from street lights and to help heating and cooling costs.
  • Using sound machines to help them stay asleep
  • Using red tone lights (like these Himalayan salt lamps that also clean the air) in hallways and bathrooms so they could see to go to the bathroom if needed but there wasn’t any blue or white light to disrupt sleep.

Helpful Tips

These tips were helpful along the way:

  • The kids really liked the Himalayan Salt Lamps. We didn’t put these in their rooms, but they liked that there was light in the hallway and bathroom if they needed it.
  • We  use blackout curtains because we have artificial light outside and these also help with heating and cooling costs.
  • Using sound machines helped sooth them to sleep and help them stay asleep. We use these machines with the kids because they can be plugged in instead of using batteries and the “rain” sound is a definite favorite.
  • The first few nights making this switch with our oldest, we turned on the sound machine first and read to him with the light on. Then, we turned off the light but left the door open with the salt lamp in the hallway. From here, we slowly worked up to putting him to sleep with the door closed and complete darkness.
  • Avoiding TV at night also helped. The blue light from TV suppressed melatonin, making it harder for them to fall asleep.
  • Letting older kids drink a cup of chamomile tea with a little honey (helps with any hypoglycemia issues) and some butter blended in to it. The healthy fats support hormone function and this combination has been great for sleep.
  • Rubbing Magnesium Body Butter on their feet before bed (and putting socks on). The magnesium helps promote sleep and is beneficial in other ways too.
  • Switching to organic mattresses also made a big difference for us, especially for our son who we were working on reversing allergies with. The light made a bigger difference, so I wouldn’t put new mattresses as the highest priority (we had to save for a long time for them) but they were helpful too.
  •  Explaining it to them: We’ve found that our kids often make healthy choices when given the information to help them do so. We talked to our older kids about the reasons night lights were not good for them and let them be involved in the decision to get rid of the night lights.

Do your kids have night lights? Ever thought about removing them? Share below!

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Reader Comments

  1. My children did not have night lights at all. My nephew that I cared for for 18 months (51/2 to 7) had a night light but i got rid of it, mostly for the reasons you cite. I have a night light, though not in the bedroom, as I am scared of the dark (a long, complicated story, as I love the outside dark.). What you say makes sense.

  2. Any recommendations for healthy sleep promotion for those, such as myself, who work 12 hour night shifts at the hospital?

    • I am SO NOT a medical professional, but my guess would be to use blackout curtains when you sleep and also get one of those UV-less special lights that help your body produce the stuff that the sun helps it produce. I’ve had a friend be greatly helped by them who had Seasonal Affective Disorder.

  3. My kids never had night lights though I kept one in the bathroom. I told them that I’d had monster proof glass installed before we moved in. That actually worked really well. Another trick I’ve heard of but didn’t use was to take a bottle of air freshener and create a custom label for “Monster Repellant.” This works because the smell reminds them that it keeps monsters away.

    • A spray bottle on the mist setting with a little lavender oil works wonders too as it has calming properties

  4. I have nyctophobia, so I have a salt lamp and purple fairy lights in my dorm to help. The light is dim and not sharp, but it gives me the ability to go to sleep in peace. If I’m in pitch darkness, I start having panic attacks. Good ideas though!

  5. I’d be interested to know how the moon affects this. We don’t have any blinds in our bedroom (we also live in a rural town so there is no other lights). We don’t have any electronic lights in our bedroom either…just the moonlight.

    I mean, realistically, it’s not like humans ever were in total darkness when sleeping outdoors.

    Thoughts?

    • From my understanding, moon light is fine and helps regulate hormones. It is often hard to get only moon light though, so often it is better to avoid light completely

      • Have you tried a low red light? I have read that it mimics fire light, and doesn’t change your melatonin levels. I have them in my home. Thoughts? Sorry if someone has already asked this

    • I wonder about the moon light too. Sometimes our room is very bright from the moon, and we have blinds. It’s really hard to keep all the surrounding light from entering our room.

    • I was wondering this same thing. If you want to be aligned with the full moon, moonlight is actually needed. I sleep better in full dark, but am looking forward to trying the moon cycling this month!

  6. Yikes! I just followed this over from FB… and, for what it’s worth, *I* think it’s an excellent article and you’re right–my kids *shouldn’t* have night lights!
    (They don’t, but we live in the city… so they have street lights!)
    I’ve been looking into blackout curtains for my bedroom… with the idea of regulating my monthly cycle with the moon… but you’ve inspired me to get blackout curtains for the kids’ rooms too!
    Thank you! 🙂

  7. It’s so funny that you posted this today, because I just bought a himalayan salt lamp for my boys’ room, figuring I’d leave it on as a night light so it could purify the air as they slept. Since that’s the room they spend the most time in, would you recommend having the salt lamp on all day so it can do it’s thing while they’re at school, then turning it off at night?

  8. Great post..

    For my two year old

  9. Great post.

    For my 2 year old daughter, we have been using one of those silly “dream lights”, which are basically animals with a nightlight on their back that project shapes (stars and moons) on the ceiling. The great thing about those toys is that the light shuts off automagically after about 5 minutes.

  10. Good article! I don’t have kids yet but I have noticed a difference when its pitch black in our room. I noticed a bigger difference when I forced my husband to kick the TV out of the bedroom. We sleep so good now

  11. Another great alternative might be to replace one nightlight for a better one. There’s this device called Luness that was originally designed to help women regulate their menstrual cycle and aid natural family planning. The whole idea behind it is that you’re supposed to be exposed to varying amounts of moonlight while you sleep. It seems to have a high success rate for its intended purpose and, hormones being what they are, accidentally turned out being great for improving other hormone regulation issues and improving sleep quality. I am by no means endorsing it, because I haven’t tried it myself. Right now, it’s prohibitively expensive to buy the device itself (and apparently something really wonky is going on with their online store at the moment,) and I’m not keen on using the app version. Hopefully they bring the price down soon or someone else develops a similar product.
    Anyway, it’s just a nifty idea that I thought I would share. If I couldn’t use something like that as a nightlight for my (future) kids, it would be dark bedrooms all the way.

  12. My son, now 7, slept with a night light up until about a year ago. It took a bit of time to transition, as he’d just turn on his bedside light himself if he woke up at night. I’m not sure what prompted him to accept the change, but we just kept telling him how he’d sleep more soundly if he tried sleeping without it on. And now, he does 🙂

  13. Has anyone tried those glasses that are supposed to filter out most blue light? Katie, there is a product review I´d love to read.

  14. We just got amber tinted goggles for the whole family to wear after dinner (decreasing exposure to blue light after sunset) and my 6-year-old son loves his so much he wore them to bed. Fell asleep with them on! We removed them, of course… But it was cute. 🙂

  15. Thank you for this post! My eight-year-old son is extremely afraid of the dark and deals with sensory issues and anxiety. He MUST have the light on when he goes to sleep, or he will have a panic attack. It’s frustrating, but I don’t really know that there is anything we can do about it. We let him fall asleep with the light on, and then we turn it off. We have come a long way from the days when he had to have it on all night!

    • I have the same problem as above. While the posts here would help with my younger my older has sensory and anxiety issues and the no light at all is definately a no go. I found also the dimmer light created more shadows and the anxiety increased and then there was no sleeping. I like the idea but I guess its not a fit for all. I am looking forward to the day i don’t have to sit beside the bed for hours calming the older one to sleep. I like the magnesium thought…..

      • Why not try a red light. Red actually creates fewer shadows than regular light. Maybe one of those salt lamps if they glow red.

      • My daughter uses a nightlight, but my son doesn’t. For my daughter, I bought the SPOKA nightlight from Ikea – the one that turns red (it cycles through pink and orange as well, but you can ‘freeze’ it on whichever colour you like). Now that she’s older I’ve convinced her to add a small pink blanket over top of it to dim it even further. The red is gentler on the eyes – I got the idea because my husband works on a navy ship and they only use red light at night to preserve their night vision. She’s been using this rechargeable nightlight for well over two years now and it still holds its charge all night, so it’s definitely worth the $17! It’s portable and can be carried with her to the bathroom, and I also bought a second one to use while nursing my son so I could see (just barely) enough to change a diaper in the dark but not wake me or him up too much. Hope that helps!

        • A blanket over a light? That’s just begging to start a fire…

        • Hi there!

          So this SPOKA light seems neat, my daughter is afraid of the dark and is insisting on a night light (she never needed one before). She has the turtle that emits stars on the wall but that shuts off after a certain time and she needs something on all night. Does this SPOKA stay on all night? Also, I am super paranoid about fires starting from regular night lights (the reason I have never gotten one of the plugin ones). Is this plugged into the wall or does it use batteries? If it plugs into the wall, would you say that it is pretty safe?

  16. So basically moonlight is perfectly helpful??

  17. Will an eye mask work just as well as blacking out the room if your body only detects light through the eyelids? I’ve found it difficult to black out my room and also for traveling. The eye mask is easy but I want to make sure that it works just as well. Thank you!

      • No worries: light is detected entirely through the eyes.

        • I have read in Suzanne Somer’s books (her books are fantastic and have helped me a lot, especially Breakthrough, Knockout and Bombshell) that there have been studies done and light is definitely absorbed through the skin as well. From what I can recall, they proved by placing the subject in a pitch black room and putting a tiny pin light behind the knees under the covers while they’ve slept and it affected them.

          So that’s when I got rid of the digital clock that showed the time in red at night.
          The cell phone is really bad too and should probably be at least 6 feet away from you anyway..

          • Suzanne Somer is not a sleep researcher. Although light may be detected by the skin, there’s no research that suggests light detected by skin affects circadian rhythm (body clock). This is supported by the fact that blind people don’t have circadian rhythms.

          • I don’t allow my children to sleep with nightlights. They are 2.5 and 7 years and have slept in complete darkness since they were babies. I have a chronic illness that has, as a symptom, sleep disruption. I was constantly tired. I saw a tip online to use the outdoor canvas fabric used to cover lawn chair pillows to completely black out windows. Some people use tin foil. I used the black canvas and tacked it over my frame on top of the blinds and there is not a shred of light that comes through. Plus I have curtains over that for aesthetic purposes.

            I use a sleep mask as well and only use a nightlight in the bathroom and kitchen. People comment how they sleep so well when they come to my home…maybe because I keep the room very dark and I keep it cool. I also limit light from the other windows so that if I have to get up briefly, I’m not blasted with sunlight or artificial light before I have to be up for the day. I blacked out my kids’ window too. Have little to no issue with preventing them from getting up with the sun on weekends! 🙂

            I cover my red tone alarm clock with a piece of paper when I’m going to bed. I find that it keeps me awake because I will find myself looking at the clock, and also the light does make a difference despite the fact that I wear a sleep mask.

  18. This is interesting. I am from the UK and always had to have my bedroom totally dark to fall asleep as there were many street lights on my street. Without a blind and curtains my room would glow! Then I moved to Australia and found people here don’t black their windows out as much as they have fewer street lamps. I still cover my windows up completely and my kids windows too as I cannot sleep with any light in my room. But funnily enough when we go on our holiday (to a very remote and deserted coastal area) we sleep in a house with no curtains or blinds. The moonlight streams through the windows and guess what – we all sleep deeply and soundly. In fact, its the best sleep we get!

  19. Is it ok if I cover my face with my comforter? I do it every night. I’m also afraid of darkness.

  20. Do you have recommendations for a toddler training clock that does NOT have a night light?? My son is 2, and for the past several months, have been waking up too early in the morning, crying hysterically to be tended to. It is exhausting and stressful for everyone — including the neighbors!!! I want to teach him to stay quiet and wait until “the morning” to get up by using a toddler training clock, but every single clock I’ve looked into (including the famous Glo Clock from the UK), all have built-in nightlights that you can’t shut off!!! Is there a clock that does NOT have a light???

    • I have one that lights up (green) only when you have set it to (“time to wake”). Works great, until they get their hands on it to play with. 😉 I recommend putting it where they can’t reach. Now, what is it called… Hm. I think if you search for “time to wake” you will find it. It is white with a pink or green face plate (interchangeable) and shaped like a ball with two little feet (with green buttons). Another mom – who suggested it to me – says she put little socks on the feet to remove temptation. Hope that helps!

      • You’re talking about the Onaroo Okay to Wake clock. We love it. I do keep it out of reach to prevent our toddler from using the nightlight. I wish they had one that plugged in but we use rechargeable batteries and they last about 9 months!!

    • We have a gro clock, and also found the light was too bright. We still use it, but you can set the brightness for night time to ‘0’, and this is no light at all. Then when the sun appears, it does light up. Ours is almost 4 years old though, so maybe this is not the newest model.

    • We just use a normal led nightlight on a timer. Works exactly the same and less than half the cost of the fancy toddler alarm clocks,

    • My daughter could read time at 2, so I covered it with a towel and she could uncover it in the morning to see if it was wake time. Worked for a long time until she started playing with it at night.

    • My daughter could read time at 2, so I covered it with a towel and she could uncover it in the morning to see if it was wake time. My second daughter based it off the first number on the clock (hour)-got us close enough. Worked for a long time until she started playing with it at night.

      We have never done night lights for our kids because I read years ago it may cause near sightedness. Personally, I can’t sleep if my husband is even charging his phone. The little blue light wakes me. If he brings it in the room he has to put it under the bed or put a towel on top.

      For those of you with kids who are scared off the dark, all my kids went through a phase where they became scared of the dark. Invisible “Fairy Dust” sprinkled over their bodies worked for a while. Told them not to move too much or it would fall off.

  21. My son sleeps with a salt lamp we never turn it off. Do you think I should turn it off at night?

  22. I’m looking into designing a product to help children with a fear of the dark, if you could replicate the light given off by the Himalayan salt lamp would that be a healthier alternative to the classic nightlight?

  23. You may want to do some research on the dangers of noise machines on brain development as well before recommending those over nightlights.

  24. Cheaper way to basically follow this guide is just use a red bulb in the night light base. Use those in rooms, hallways, and bathrooms. Ive done research and found that works perfectfully fine and that seems to be the cheapest thing to do instead of spending 20-30 on a bulky salt lamp.

  25. the red lights are a great idea.

  26. As an early childhood sleep researcher I disagree with this article. Light under 10 lux (much brighter than most night lights) has been found to not disrupt melatonin’s natural secretion patterns which in fact onset 2 hours BEFORE bedtime. This means that early evening light exposure is much more responsible for disrupting the circadian rhythm than night lights in a bedroom. Children who are genuinely afraid of the dark will have more sleep problems if they are not allowed a night light as this causes anxiety. Bottom line: night lights are not the problem. Letting your children watch TV, play video games, or sit in front of artificially lit computer screens in the evening is the problem.

  27. I have slept without a night light for a long time but then I started having recurring nightmares so I now sleep with a green night light. I can’t sleep without any light now but when I wake up at night the light suddenly seems really bright, why is this, also is there any light I could use that is better for me but still means I can see in the dark, I don’t have any disorders.

    • Try a red nightlight and keep a flashlight next to your bed:)

    • A green light seems brighter when you wake during the night because the pupils of your eyes are wide open due to having closed eyes…your eyes have adjusted to see better in darkness.

      When you’re first going to sleep, your eyes haven’t adjusted for darkness yet, so your pupils are closed and not letting as much light in to your eyes.

  28. My fiance and i sleep in a totally dark room, my 10 yr old however has night terrors and if we dont have a light in his room he doesnt sleep at all! Pure darkness is not good for everyone!

  29. We’ve started using blue blocker light bulbs in several lamps. These are orange and can be purchased online or at Home Depot–they are sold as “party” bulbs. At sunset, we turn on the lamps with these bulbs and enjoy the soft light. After about a week, I really started appreciating how gentle they are on you–if I accidently turned a regular light on it seemed so harsh! I think it is especially helpful during the winter when the days are short. The only down side is that I love to read before bed and these bulbs don’t offer enough light for that. Maybe I’ll try putting my feet up instead!

    I also concur on the tart cherry juice. I put a little in a martini glass and fill it with a sparkly mineral water. I usually sleep great after that!

    And thanks Katie for your great website! I’ve followed you for years now and so appreciate your helpful posts!

  30. I am really, really excited to try this. My daughter has had a night light since she transitioned to her own room/crib at 3 months (she outgrew the bassinet and HATED co-sleeping … I wasn’t ready for her to go, but she did NOT like sharing her space and, like her daddy, had a definite preferred bedtime and didn’t like any noise or disruption then) … but the night light was for me to be able to see to get to her (we have no plugs in our hallways and a very tiny house that overheads flood the whole space), and I have read several articles on the need for total darkness to get good sleep but couldn’t figure out how I was supposed to be able to get to her quickly without scrambling for flashlights, etc and be able to see to get to her without waking her up further … and I just heard about salt lamps a month or two ago and plan to go get a couple to place strategically in rooms off the hallway to give me light to see by, without it filling the nursery! This will also be excellent for being able to see as I attempt (for the second time, hopefully successfully this time) breastfeeding my newborn due in May, and will probably feel like I need to see at first to get it right.

  31. thanks for sharing this information with world.

  32. I just got rid of the night light in my master bathroom after reading this article, and the difference in my sleep is amazing! I don’t wake up tired and with a feeling that I have to lay down just a little longer. Thank you so very much for this information, and I’ll be sharing this with friends and family.

    • I am so glad it is working for you! The importance of good, deep, healthy sleep cannot be underestimated, and I am happy for you that you are getting some!

  33. What has our society turned in to. So obsessed with safety and health that they want to force out night lights now? What the heck! Its a night light!! It helps some kids sleep better so please people stop writing stuff like “air conditioning is unhealthy!”. Have some fun and live a live. Geesh

    • Wow, Nate. Sounds like you’re not getting enough quality sleep.

      Rather than just babies/children, you’re apparently unaware of the literally millions of people affected by insomnia due to our modern light-filled nights, let alone all the other health issues caused by artificial lighting.

      Surely you’ve heard of outdoor light pollution, and you’re probably against that. Well, night lights are indoor light pollution.

      Clearly you don’t know insomnia and lack of sleep are implicated in poor learning, inefficiency and error-prone sleep-deprived workers, vehicle accidents, dietary issues, and numerous other health problems. Sleep deprivation costs us millions of dollars and countless lives each year.

      Must I mention that inadequate melatonin production due to the blue wavelength in lights is also implicated in sundowning (severe agitation) for those afflicted by dementia.

      Light pollution is proven to effect many wildlife. Are humans so exceptional that somehow we’re immune to it.

      Perhaps in another several millenia humans will adapt to artificial lighting, but for now even astronauts on the International Space Center use special lighting to regulate their circadian rhythms. But I guess you know better than NASA.

      • Paulo you missed what Nate was even saying. Dim Night lights less than 10 lux are not causing depression, car accidents and insomnia. You are making this a much bigger issue than kids sleeping with tiny lights in their corners. While I agree that exposure to bright, artificial light late at night is not good for health, I think you are being a little extreme in your attack on Nate.

      • Paulo is correct.

        Dr George Brainard has done extensive research on circadian disruption due to arificial light at night for NASA to benefit the astronauts aboard the ISS. The lighting aboard the ISS will be redone because of what has been learned. His research indicates that blue wavelength is the most disruptive to the human circadian, with dim red and dim amber being the least disruptive. We can apply the same information to protect ourselves and our loved ones.Dr Brainard recommends the use of a dim amber or dim red night light — placed low to the floor, if possible, where needed in the bedroom, hall and bathroom. I also recommend reading the research papers by Dr David Blask and team from Tulane University School of Medicine. His team discovered that not only can artificial light at night (ALAN) increase the risks of certain cancers, but also kill the cure, by rendering Tamoxifen and many other chemotherapy drugs ineffective. ALAN causes circadian disruption and the inability of the body to produce melatonin. A streetlight shining through typical bedroom windows or a standard night light, or a blue light from a clock radio or phone, etc are all examples of a light source capable of circadian disruption. Dim red or dim amber night lights are safe. Natural moon light is safe. Blue light at NIGHT is harmful. Blue light during the day, especially morning will maximize the amount of melatonin your body will produce at night. Shutting off TV, computers or electronics 1-2 hours before bedtime will minimize delay of your body producing melatonin. If you can’t avoid the computer screens, for example– a hospital’s patient room is full of monitors with harmful lighting (which by all means OUGHT TO BE covered with a simple thin blue-blocking film), wear blue-blocking glasses, use blue-blocking films on the monitor. Sleeping masks are effective (if you don’t take them off in the middle of the night) because only your eyes need to be in the dark. Only some portions of the ganglionic cell layer of the retina is capable of sending a signal to the SCN part of the brain, the chief regulator of the master clock. The results from the “light behind the knee” research paper has never been duplicated and has been disregarded in current circadian study.) Some of you may be interested in this free 2-day workshop… parts of it will be webcasted. http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/pubhealth/roc/candidates/meetings/workshop_alan.html Workshop: Shift Work at Night, Artificial Light at Night, and Circadian Disruption Hosted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Studies/ National Toxicology Program.

    • @Nate,

      PS: I neglected to mention sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). There’s a reason many people in Seattle are depressed and some commit suicide, and it’s not because of Starbucks or grunge music.

      What to you is just a night light, is to others the equivalent of a lighthouse.

    • I agree with Nate. There are bigger fish to fry when it comes to what we should be worrying about. If having a night light brings you comfort, so be it.

  34. The artical was very good and I liked reading everyone’s comments! I just started a new bed schedule. I go to bed every night at the same time. I also turn off ALL artificial light (TV, computer, regular lamps, overhead lights) one hour before bed and light a small candle. I have noticed that my neurologic illness has improved in only one week! I will keep you posted as to how my health responds to this new regime!

  35. Hi there, isn’t falling asleep to sound (like fans) bad for us? Like making us rely on that white noise to sleep? Not sure, thoughts?

  36. I will maybe buy that too much artificial light will make you sleep quality worse (I can’t sleep with night lights ect), but natural light I belive is fine. Moonshine and midnight sun for an example. I’m from the north of Scandinavia where it is light (even sun is up at places far enough north), at night for months, and people sleep and are not worse off health wise than anywhere else to my knowledge, And no, most people don’t have blinds but just learn how to sleep like that.

  37. Hi Katie!

    I love your blog so much! You have helped me a lot with my transition to a healthier life = ) I am wondering, my daughter likes to have SOME light in her room because she gets scared at night. We have artificial lights right out side her window, so moonlight is not an option. Do you know about, or have an opinion on, the NUK Natural Sleep System Sound and Light Machine? http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00J40DRQG/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00J40DRQG&linkCode=as2&tag=wellnessmama-20&linkId=O4ZUPG4SKFVRV5YS

    It claims to have “amber” light rather than blue/white light. Would this be any better than a nightlight?

    Any help is very much appreciated. Thanks for all you do!

  38. Hi! My guy, a super tekkie, brought home this very expensive unit as a “prize” for me – I thought it was more for him lol. But it does work soooo well. 🙂 Lights all controlled by phone or tablet. Individual light control, great for study or relax – or party!. It has a mode that gently wakes you from across the room, or you can set auto timer. it has loads of colors, and even a fun disco strobe light for a fun Friday night in. Other apps can have lights respond to music 🙂 Very fun!! Even though they were definitely not a cheap toy, they make life so nice and I can read in bed and turn off at a moments notice. Also, has a function where you can just manually override, in case you need a light asap. Has been a very nice addition to our home. It’s the clapper of the future.
    Here’s a link on Amazon (although he got his at home depot) http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00A4EUUO8/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00A4EUUO8&linkCode=as2&tag=wellnessmama-20&linkId=6QBPCZXMIQ4JCCPD

  39. For hundreds of thousands of years humans slept with a fire burning, either in a cave or on the savannah. Fire = safety from animal attacks and also mean you were with your tribe . It’s not really the amount of light so much as the colour and kind of light.

    It’s a soft , warm, reddish light. The flickering can be comforting too.

    I absolutely agree that the bluish light from electronics affects the pineal grand and the production of melatonin. Turn them off early in the evening.

    Basically, if you are a parent, use your common sense and replicate the more natural human environment. Some children sleep better in a light , noisy environment because they associate it with human contact. Some children need dark and quiet. All your children will be a little different in ideal sleep environment. Too bad if they have to share a room!

  40. For the longest time we had night lights all through the house and in bedrooms to aide our 7 year old that was scared of the dark. Thanks to this article I realized this was not the best practice for the health of my family.
    Our solution was motion sensor night lights instead. We put them along the path our son takes if he wakes up scared and we put one in our bathroom for those times we get up too 🙂 So far it has worked out pretty well. We found these battery operated ones on amazon and they have a stand so you don’t have to mount them, and you can pack them with you for trips:
    http://amzn.to/1BeoNpF

  41. My son has autism and pure darkness causes him to have panic attacks, so no night light is NOT an option. He actually only sleeps through the night with his bedroom light on. We’ve tried turning it off constantly when he turns it on, but all that does is cause him to get up several times a night to turn it back on. We tried taking the bulb out of his bedroom light, but that only resulted in him opening his bedroom door & turning the hall light on to sleep on the hall floor. I’d rather he sleep through the night.

    • Same here. Sigh 🙁

  42. Hi Katie,

    I found the sleeping in complete darkness interesting. I recall reading some info on the con of sleeping in a “cave like” room, even after the sun rises. Using black out curtains or blocking out streetlights to make your room pitch black can help you fall asleep and stay asleep BUT if daylight isn’t able to creep in by morning, your body’s natural circadian rhythm won’t know that it’s time to wake up. I’m wondering if this is why you said you don’t feel like a “morning person”..Lol Have you heard anything like this before or come across it in your research of complete darkness sleeping?

    • I actually use an alarm clock that uses light to help combat this!

  43. Some people, like myself, can’t sleep in total darkness without risking an episode wherein you can’t fully wake up all the way and you find yourself disoriented and confused in blackness. You shouldn’t advocate things for everyone across the board without knowing some of the conditions out there that do not lend themselves well to them.

    • I should hope that someone who has a condition like what you describe would know enough not to follow this advice. Clearly it does not apply to you, but that does not mean that it is bad for everyone.

  44. Does anyone have any recommendations for darker or otherwise less-disruptive night lights? I HATE the one in our own bedroom (little girl doesn’t have a night light) but my husband insists he’ll stub his toes or otherwise die without it….can you tell it’s driving me bonkers? I keep looking thru Amazon to no avail…i might need to cause an “accident” to happen to ours!

  45. Seriously, have you never gone camping? The night is NOT black. There are stars and the moon. Since the creation of the Earth we have had light at night. If you simply can’t sleep with ANY light, get yourself a night mask (and some ear plugs for all the noise). For heaven’s sake, God created the heavens for a reason. What a bunch of balleyhoo.

    • The difference is that light from the moon and stars is natural light, the lights in our homes is artificial and our bodies react to it differently…

  46. Thanks for the info. I have heard of research citing noise machines to also be detrimental to sleep.

  47. HI, This was a great summary and we have already been doing these things but I do need to check on my children before I go to sleep or if they have a problem at night e.g. toilet, nightmare, illnness, covers come off etc… not often but sometimes I do need to check on them in the middle of the night. I have been using my mobile light for this and I know it’s the wrong type of light. I cannot find an orange hand held nightlight though. Do you know of one? Or a torch with an orange bulb …..? We do have a salt lamp where my 3 yr old sleeps but I find that very bright to turn on at night. I wanted something small handhelp and dim orange. If anyone knows of something like this please share! Thank you

  48. Ive always used a Himilayian Salt Lamp (instead of a night light) in my daughters room. I assumed it had great benefits being left on all night. Is it not as harmful because as you stated its a different tone than a traditional light? Would love to know your thoughts on this thanks!

    • It is an orange tone, which is better at night, and what I would use if we were ever going to leave a light on at night for the kids, but mine definitely sleep better with no light.

  49. Katie,

    I didn’t see this question elsewhere, so I apologize if it’s a repeat. My first child is coming in May and I’m planning to nurse and assume I will need to be up at night with her for a while. What do you do about waking up at night to feed and/or change baby? I do want her to sleep in total darkness but obviously want to see what I’m doing when I’m up with her.

    Thank you (and congrats on your newest addition – I loved reading the birth story)!

  50. Is any red tone light okay? Our daughters’ bathroom has a pink nightlight

    • In theory yes, but but without knowing the exact spectrum of the night light I can’t say for sure…

  51. What about investing in eye sleep masks instead of curtains? I wear a mask to sleep

  52. I am glad i found this post. For the past month or so my eight year old daughter has been waking several times a night saying she is scared. None of us are having any sleep. I was also really puzzled as before she had been a really deep sleeper and would hardly wake up. We normally had the hallway light on and that was enough light! Well a couple of months ago I bought her a globe LED light and I though to myself, well yes I realise she is waking up scared but why is she sleeping so lightly? Well yesterday after i read your post I turned off her night light. She slept in till five in the morning! I will not be using the night light from now on and I hope this is the end of her sleep issue.

  53. Did you know that iPhone has a setting under display and brightness, in which you can change the screen lighting to orange instead o blue? You can sync it with the sunrise and sunset automatically.

  54. My friend suggested putting a green lightbulb in our himalayan salt lamp and it works great so its not so bright

  55. What would you recommend for newborns. We are about to have our first baby and know that we will need to change diapers in the middle of the night for some time. I was going to keep a blue light filtered nightlight on at all times next to the changing table.

    • A blue light filtered nightlight or a salt lamp is a great solution for nighttime diaper changes. (Though if it is encouraging, we’ve really only had to do night time changes for a few months with each baby). Congrats on your little one.