Is this sleep mistake keeping your baby awake?
There is one sleep mistake that can make a big difference if everything else is going well. It can cause early mornings and issues with naps. Could this be the one thing you’re missing?
There’s a good reason I advise my clients to keep their baby’s bedroom dark both at night time and for nap time. Light is a powerful stimulus that can tell your body “it’s time to wake up”. Of course this is the opposite of what we’re working towards when we’re trying to improve sleep!
However, what a lot of people don’t realise is that even the smallest amount of light creeping in through the curtains can disturb a baby’s sleep.
And if you stop to think about it, it does make sense.
If your baby wakes and opens her eyes for a few seconds and she can see her toys in the room, she might be excited enough to rouse herself to play.
If your toddler is lying there with the sun streaming in, he’s going to be thinking it’s still time to be playing outside. That FOMO (fear of missing out) can kick in and be a powerful stimulus in itself.
But, on the other hand, if the room is dark, when he opens his eyes his brain will tell him, “It’s dark…it must still be time for sleep.”
As the darker days of winter have changed to sunny spring (here’s hoping at least), keeping baby’s room dark can be more of a challenge. So here’s what I suggest you do:
SEARCH FOR THE LIGHT
While you might think your child’s room is pretty dark, on reflection, its best that you check and make sure. It can take a while for our eyes to adjust when walking into a darkened room and if you just stay a while, you might realise the room isn’t as dark as you thought it was.
I suggest going into your child’s room near the time you want her to go to bed. Close the bedroom door, wait a minute or two and then look around once on your eyes have adjusted to the dimness:
Do you see the evening sun peeking out from behind the curtains?
Are those blinds you thought were pretty dark actually letting slivers of light in?
Is there a digital clock or night light glowing near the cot or bed that could be keeping your child awake?
Once you have found the source of any extra light, the solutions are simple.
DARKENING YOUR CHILD’S ROOM: THE TIPS
To darken a room you can simply hang a thick blanket over your existing curtains. You don’t have to spend a fortune on heavy-duty blackout curtains (although if you can afford it, go for it).
If you have blinds, make sure they are fitted properly with no gaps on the sides or the bottom of the window.
If there’s a lot of light leaking in on either side, you may need to buy a different size. IN the meantime, you can tape cardboard over the window panes to block out that spring sunshine.
There are many small factors that either help us or hinder us with sleep, and light is an important one.
Note too: light from devices like IPads, mobile phones and TV can also disrupt our melatonin production, the hormone that helps us get to sleep and stay asleep, so staring at these devices prior to sleep time can make things harder too.
Many adults have restless, fitful nights because they have spent too much time on their computers right before bed or because they leave the hall light on.
Blocking out excess light is a simple fix, and it will often make the world of difference!
Because everyone needs a good night’s sleep!