Tracy Spackman Sleep Consultant
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Does teaching babies to sleep in the dark spoil their chances of being able to fall/stay asleep in dim or lit environments later in life?

No. That is a common misconception.

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If your baby is able to sleep in loud, bright places- fantastic, you have an easier baby than some others. It’s fine. If you struggle to get your baby to sleep, that is a different story. A baby sleeps easier in a completely dark room. Just like adults. Especially after the vision changes and they can see farther across the room. The lights from a night light, window, baby monitor are all distracting and stimulating…”What’s that bright thing?” Moms who notice the baby is staring at them through the monitor, that baby is captivated by the little 

light on the camera. Once your baby is a good sleeper, then you can introduce more challenging sleep situations. They are likely going to be much more flexible. Nights and Naps are different and one can never get it as dark for a nap as you can for the night but any darker that you can get it, is likely going to help. Your body has a circadian rhythm, (a clock) which drives the need for sleep.  It is reset each day by light exposure starting around 4 months old. It’s essential that we experience a regular light dark cycle in order to maintain appropriate sleep at night.  That’s not saying we need to nap in the light.  During daytime waking hours, be in the light starting with light exposure first thing.  During naps and night time, stay in the dark. This means that if your baby wakes up at night, try to keep him in the dark or very low light.

Erin Flynn-Evans (PhD in sleep and circadian physiology) says “the bright daytime sun is quite able to invade a napping child’s room during the day. There isn’t a circadian need to have a dark room during the day, however, in order to avoid an inappropriately short nap it is absolutely key that a napping child’s room is cool, dark and quiet. A dark room can mean the difference between a 30 minute nap and a two hour nap. If your child only gets a 30 minute nap, but really needs a two hour nap, everyone will pay the price. An un-rested child will have more difficulty going to sleep at night, will wake up more frequently during the night, and will exhibit negative behaviors such as crankiness and inappropriate reactions to situations while awake.”

A dark room helps your baby sleep longer.  Once your baby has good sleep skills, they are likely going to be more flexible to unusual situations like hotel rooms, air planes, and restaurants.  I have seen this happen over and over again.  A mom tells me her child won’t sleep longer than 30 minutes.  The first thing I want to know is where the baby is napping?  Often the answer is in a playpen or a swing in the living room.  TV on, toddler playing nearby.  I suggest she try putting the play pen or the swing in the baby’s room where it is dark and quiet and see if that helps.  It usually does.  That may not be all she needs to do but it’s a good start.

You nap and sleep better in a dark, quiet room.  It’s the same for your baby.

I believe in using evidenced based methods that are gentle and backed by science.  If you need sleep help, sleep consultations offered in person and over the phone.  Contact me for a free 15 min sleep assessment.

Tracy Spackman

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Certified Gentle Sleep Coach

602-524-7610

www.GetQuietNights.com

 

June 9, 2014 This post was written by Categories: Uncategorized Tagged with:
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