You may not have heard, but sleep scientists have long questioned the pros and cons of night lights and of light in general during bedtime, for both adults and children.Today, we’re going to shed a little light on past and recent findings.Different Night Light Types
It should first be noted that not all night lights
are the same, particularly when it comes to bulb “temperature” – a reference to actual light color in addition to the color of the bulb or shade. Research suggests that certain colors have different impacts.For example, a 2012 Harvard study
found that blue light – that is, light having blue wavelengths – is beneficial during the day but disruptive at night. Studies show that blue light more forcefully suppresses melatonin secretion, a key component to maintaining one’s circadian rhythm, or sleep cycle.A subsequent study in 2013
at the Nara Medical University School of Medicine in Japan supported the Harvard Findings, noting that overexposure to light at night can lead to depressive symptoms, metabolic abnormalities and general degradation of sleep quality.Both studies concluded that dim, red light is best suited for use in night lights, and that avoiding blue screens (computers, TVs, etc.) right before bed could also help maintain a natural sleep cycle that promotes lower risk of cancer, diabetes and other ailments.Night Light Power
This research may seem to suggest that night lights aren’t worth the trouble, but their substantial power can be used in a positive way.An earlier study
, conducted in 1990 at the University of San Diego, also focused on night lights’ impact on melatonin levels and found that the proper “dosage” could be beneficial in treating infertility and help with endocrine-related issues.Of course, this squares with what sleep scientists later discovered about light’s impact on melatonin, but the earlier study didn’t explore light types. Now combined, the bulk or research supports using night lights with “low blue” light if having one on is your preference.Blue Light Special
So, what’s “low blue” light? Blue light is emitted by high-temperature bulbs similar to those used in offices, kitchens and task lighting, but even low-temperature bulbs can be tinged blue by the bulb glass or shade.If you’re going to use a night light (for yourself or your child), try using a low-temperature bulb that gives off soft reddish or yellowish light.