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Why do sleep consultants recommend a dark room for sleep?

In the sleep world MOST consultants recommend a dark room for healthier and more restorative sleep. If you’ve been following us on social media we are all about educating and empowering parents to make good decisions and giving evidence and good enough reasons for these decisions.

So why a dark room?

First, We need to set the stage for sleep…

We all have a circadian rhythm, also known as a biological clock which controls our: sleep and wake systems, when we are hungry, cognitive functioning and many other body functions. We can reset this clock when we are exposed to LIGHT, SOCIAL INTERACTION and FOOD at certain times of the day.

When babies are born, their natural circadian rhythms are immature because they have been getting food 24/7 and have been in our tummies (which is dark) for 9 months. So we as parents need to help our little ones to sync their day routines with their natural circadian rhythms to help them fall asleep easily and without a fight. Our bodies also have hormones that contribute to when we feel awake or tired and this can be adjusted with the help of exposure to light and darkness.

Light:

According to research, when we expose our little ones to natural light, like spending time outside and enjoying nature, the hormone Serotonin is stimulated and released in our bodies (that lovely feel good hormone). A definite must for our little ones.

(If you stay in another country where going outside is not possible, then natural light inside your home can be sufficient) 
We are very fortunate to live in sunny South Africa. So use the sun to your advantage!

Once it is nap time for your baby, doing a fun wind down helps prepare them that sleep is coming! We are all about sleepy cues and preparing our little ones for their nap or bedtime. Remember those giggles 🙂

-> Check out our blog post and our IG about bedtime routines

Then it’s time for DARK:

Now it’s time to send the signal that it’s sleepy time by making your baby’s room dark. This acts as a very important sleepy cue as well as kickstarting the conversion of  Serotonin into Melatonin (the sleepy hormone), which we all need to fall asleep. If you have your little one in an age appropriate awake window and know their sleepy signs, then we are off to a good start to a successful put down.

Having a DARK room helps our little ones to fall asleep easier, to nap longer as well as helping with those dreaded early morning wakeups. Sounds blissful right?!

So how dark do you mean?

A 10/10 would be fantastic, but we can settle for 8/10 darkness. That means you are not really able to see your hand once your eyes have adjusted. So make sure that you look at the light coming in from under the door, the sides of your “blockout” curtains and lights of appliances.

Wow thats dark?!!

Yes! Even a little slither of light will tell your baby’s body to wake up by starting up Cortisol production (the wake up hormone). Even when it falls on closed eyes. The nap would be over and you would aim for lengthening the next one.

So how do I get it really dark?

We have great solutions and please do not spend thousands on blockout curtains only to realise there is still light coming in around the curtain and is not as dark as you would like it to be.

Here is a few products we LOVE and what we have found works best!

  1. If you are on a budget
    • Try black high density refuse bags and prestik or cellotape. Foil can also do the trick.
    • You can buy cheap black material or velt, make small holes with suction cups and fit that into the desired window.
  2. A bit more sophistication
    • Gro anywhere Travel Blackout blinds from Tommee Tippee. They come in two sizes. The most popular one is the 138 x 192 cm and they fit perfectly and snug inside a window with suction cups and they can adjust with velcro if you would like to make it smaller.
      • Perfect for travelling to help your little one be familiar with their sleep environment and set that sleepy cue.
      • Easy to put up and take down. Can also be “stuck away” to let in some light without having to take off the whole blind.
      • Machine washable when it starts to get a little dusty 🙂
      • They provide blackout when it fits window nice and snug
    • Dreamy Days Instant Blackout Blind (new on the block)
      • A roll of 100% recyclable blackout sheets that is statically charged and can be used to cover about 12 standard windows.
      • These sheets leave no residue, mess or trace behind.  It clings to any clean window surface and can just be rolled up again.
      • They come with a handy travel bag so you can take it with you anywhere you go to recreate a dark room.
      • Dreamy Days is a great fit for windows that do not have thick burglar bars and the window must seal well.
      • They provide a 100% blackout

We at Brave Little Baby pride ourselves with helping our parents with a more flexible routine and especially after the sleep training journey, That you can still have a life beyond your little ones Sleep and routine. Do not get stuck at home!!!

Want more tips: 
Check out our instagram and facebook where we share lots more tips!

Make that room dark & Let’s get snoozing!