As parents, we want to do the right thing for our children. We establish evening routines, set regular bedtime hours, and limit their screen use.
However, there is a glaring problem that many of us never thought about. So many children go through a phase where they are afraid of the dark. Hell even many adults seem to be scared of the dark too. Just look around at all the ridiculous exterior lighting people put on their houses.
So what do we do?
We buy a night light for their room. We also get one for the bathroom. And one for the hallway leading to the bathroom as well.
What’s the problem with that?
Well pretty much all night lights these days use a white LED light. They are great for energy savings and they are safer than the old incandescent ones that get really hot. But… White LEDs put out an unnaturally high amount of blue light! Even “soft” or “warm white” LEDs with a low color temperature. All energy efficient white LEDs put out WAY more blue light than the old incandescent lights.
What is happening to our children if they are being exposed to blue light all night long?
We don’t really know.
Most likely they will have lower blood levels of melatonin. Especially because kids are more sensitive to the effects of blue light than adults are. Melatonin is not just for promoting sleep. It is an extremely powerful antioxidant and an important part of our body’s nighttime physiology. There are no research studies that specifically study LED night light’s effect on children’s melatonin levels.
I will not wait for such research. It could take years for someone to get funding for such a thing. With all the knowledge of blue lights effect of the body and the known benefits of melatonin, it is prudent to reduce exposure to blue light as much as possible after dark.