A night light is simple and in its own way an incredibly humble addition to any bedroom. Generally, a night light is something that we buy for children who are afraid of the things that go bump in the night, but many adults also find great use for them. Regardless of who is going to be using the night light, there are many advantages to be enjoyed, and a few disadvantages to be aware of, when you have a small light to guide you in the dark.
Having a dim light in your sleeping space will ensure that you can easily find your way around at night, but having a night light has benefits that go well beyond light. And as with anything in life, there is are negatives to go with the positives, something that we will also get into with this article.
In general, these days, the modern bedroom is no longer a place of quiet solace. Instead, it is filled with distracting lights, noises, and other disruptions that can very easily make quality sleep something difficult to attain. The problem is, our brains are designed to thrive off of complete darkness at night. When we don’t have that dark time to rest, we can end up damaging our health in a variety of ways.
Technically, a night light is going to lead to you having chronic exposure to light. There are two different types of light; natural light and unnatural light, such as that which is produced by campfires, and these days artificial light.
So What is the Downside of Night Lights?
Constant exposure to light can have an effect on your natural circadian rhythms and as a result will have an effect not only on the quality of your sleep, but having any sleep at all. Light filters through the eyelids and keeps your brain from fully relaxing and drifting off to sleep. Artificial Light at Night, otherwise known as LAN, is completely different to the other types of light that humans have been more or less naturally exposed to over the generations.
Before the industrial revolution brought electricity into our lives and into our homes, we had to rely on fires and candles for light at night. Indoor electric lighting is far less powerful than the natural sunlight, but it can have an effect on your cortisol levels as well as your melatonin levels.
There are many reasons why LAN is very bad for us. One of those reasons is because of the fact that it is known to suppress melatonin. And it is this wonderful chemical that is responsible for our sleep, as it is produced by our pineal glands when it starts to get dark outside. But it does more than just that, it is also responsible for lower blood pressure, glucose levels, and it is also the wonder chemical needed for the regulating of body temperature. In many ways, you could liken light to a drug, in that the light has a direct effect on the pineal gland.
And therein lies the problem. LAN will basically elevate the levels of cortisol in your body at night and as a result, the quality of your sleep is almost instantly compromised. Further effects which are a result of the increased levels of cortisol include insulin resistance, and problems relating to the body-fat levels.
What does all of this have to do with night lights?
Night lights are a type of LAN and so all of the negative effects we’ve mentioned above can end up having an effect on you. The moment your bedroom is not completely dark at night, you are producing more melatonin than your body necessarily needs. But, because night lights give off very little light, the effects are unlikely to be as pronounced as having a bright light on while you are trying to sleep.
The problem is made even worse when you are also exposing your brain to light from sources such as the television, laptop or computer, or your smartphone.
Is there an argument for having a night light?
We’ve really laid into the negative aspects of having a night light, but there are some positives that can be great for both adults and children. There are some people who function completely against the norm and as a result, they actually require some light at night in order to sleep. For these people, the night light becomes an absolute must.
The glow of a night light is often not enough to completely illuminate an entire bedroom, but rather the light is just enough to give the sleeper a subtle light to aid them in falling asleep.
The advantages of a night light go well beyond the bedroom. Used in passages or even the bathroom (if you are using a light that runs off of a battery), these lights can be fantastic for providing just enough light to guide your way through the house. This is ideal, as the harsh light emitted by a normal ceiling light can actually wake your brain up and make it difficult for you to go back to sleep, should you get up to use the bathroom during the night.
For children the benefits of having such a light go even further than they do for adults. Some swear that a night light is an absolute must for babies and small children. A compact light in a baby’s bedroom can guarantee that the child won’t wake up in complete darkness during the night and as a result, the child won’t become distressed. Toddlers who are prone to nightmares might also find extra solace when waking to a light. Many children are afraid of the dark, and a night light could be just what they need in order to transition to sleeping in a dark bedroom on their own.