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The sleep and wake cycles of the human being they are established based on daylight and darkness. People have developed sleep hormones called melatonin and cortisol who are one of those responsible for helping us sleep in the dark and wake us up in the morning.
Melatonin is known as the sleep hormone and it reaches its peak in the bloodstream just before we go to sleep. In the case of babies and young children between 6 and 8 in the afternoon. Hence the importance of light and the time of day to regulate sleep cycles. We explain how the type of lighting influences the rest of the children.
Cortisol is known as the stress hormone, but also it is the hormone that wakes us up. Cortisol levels are at their lowest around 3-5 hours after we fall asleep and begin to appear around 4 in the morning, peaking around 8 in the morning.
Babies are born without a biological sleep rhythm and their diurnal rhythm develops during the weeks after birth and they will begin to produce melatonin and cortisol from 3-4 months. This will help them stay awake during the day and sleep at night.
When we put our children to sleep, we want melatonin to be high and cortisol to be low. At a certain point, the hormone levels intersect and the cortisol level is higher. This is the point where we wake up. This applies to adults as well as infants and children.
For babies and children, one of the main reasons cortisol levels can be too high is due to lack of sleep. Lack of sleep produces stress, which leads to an increase in cortisol.
Light greatly influences the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that interests us so that our little ones fall asleep in a relaxed and calm way.
What we must do so that the production of melatonin starts up and helps us get our children to sleep better:
If it's time to sleep, there's still sunlight:
1. Lower blinds and completely darken the room. Both at bedtime and naps (naps for those over 4 months).
2. Avoid, at least 1 hour before putting your child to bed, TV screens, tablets and mobiles. They decrease melatonin and increase cortisol.
3. Move away the night light. And if we leave a light on, does it affect our children's sleep? It is necessary? What type of night light is suitable? Many parents believe that a night light is necessary, but it really works more so that the parents do not get lost in the darkness of the room than it makes the baby feel more secure.
Light can interfere with sleep And it can make your child not relax and become more active. It is always preferable to leave the door a little open or ajar than to leave the light on.
But if you prefer to leave a light open try not to put it too close to the area where your child sleeps. If you turn on a soft light it is really because you need it more than your baby (diaper changes, breastfeeding, bottle, etc.). Make sure you don't place it too close so it doesn't get distracted and can interfere with her sleep.
Make sure the light is very dim. Blue light interferes with the production of melatonin, so avoid blue-toned night lights and choose lights that emit warm or yellow light.
4. If your child is no longer a baby and is at a time when he is afraid of the dark or suffers from nightmares you can leave a night light. In these cases, leaving a light on will help your child to relax and stay much calmer in his bed.
** All these recommendations are taken from the books of the experts in children's sleep: National Sleep Foundation and a few more.
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