Sleep time is so important for your baby, they grow, repair, make new connections and give you a chance to finally put your feet up! However, a disruptive sleep can not only make you and your baby irritable, but also may affect their natural circadian rhythm and sleep cycle.
What is a circadian rhythm?
A circadian rhythm is the natural rhythm we develop as we grow that separates us from being nocturnal. Once light hits our eyes our body is alert and is ready to go and start the day! However, with modern technology and the invention of electricity, circadian rhythms can become disrupted. While this may not be such an issue for adults, babies and children need to develop strong sleep cycles so their bodies can do all the growing and development it needs to. This rhythm is largely monitored by the hormone melatonin in response to the light around us.
What is melatonin and how exactly does it work?
Melatonin is produced in both you and your babies’ brain and is produced via the response to light stimuli through your eyes. As it gets darker the receptors in our eyes let our brain know it is almost bedtime, and as a response your brain ramps up melatonin production. This then filters through your body where it can act on other important parts that help us get that great night’s sleep. These include lowering you and your babies body temperature so they can have a comfortable sleep and slowing breathing to that of a night-time rhythm, calming and relaxing your babies mind. Usually, melatonin production peaks at night but decreases production as soon as day or light hits the surface of the eyelid.
How dark rooms maximise your babies sleep
Unlike us, babies don’t understand the social queues of sleeping in the dark and being awake in the day, and so maximising their bodies natural need for sleep rather than only sleeping when it’s naturally dark helps them to be better rested, less irritable and meet their daily sleep needs. Babies need double our sleep needs averaging around 16 hours of sleep a day! To mimic the calming presence that our bodies generate from the darkness, making sure your babies sleep environment is as dark as can be gives them the opportunity to maximise the sleep they need.
What about a night light?
A night light can be helpful especially for night time feeding. Some babies are not bothered by the presence of a night light and can continue sleeping as normal. While for others, a night light can disrupt their circadian sleep rhythm. Consider using a low intensity night light while feeding your baby, this provides enough glow for you to see what you are doing and will not cause them to be wide awake. The Aroma Snooze is a multi-function sleep aid that has multi-color LED lighting. You can set it to go through a cycle of colored lights starting from red, orange, yellow, blue and white. You can set it to a single colour such as red for low intensity lighting and helps adults too*.
* Clinical studies show that red light helps you sleep better. Red light is ideal for evenings because it has a low color temperature, far lower than regular sunlight. You can be immersed in red light at night without giving your body a jolt and altering your internal clock like blue light does.
How do I get a room completely dark in the middle of the day?
Whilst most normal curtains still let some light pass through, there are products available that completely blocks out any light from coming through. The Sleepy Sundays Black Out Blinds provides 100% coverage to any size window, instantly blocking out any light from entering the room. It uses patented static stick technology, so there’s no need for sticky tape, pins and doesn’t use suction cups to stick to windows like other products. They are also fully customisable to fit any size and shape window and 100% reusable. It comes with a travel-friendly bag so you can take it with you when visiting a friends or grandparents’ house and its time for your baby’s nap time. Just roll and go and you have your baby’s sleep needs ready, any time anyplace.