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Why Darkness is Useful for Sleep

Darkness and Sleep, let's look at how it can help.

We need a hormone called Melatonin to sleep, this is our sleep hormone and our body produces this naturally. The way we can get our body to produce more melatonin to help us sleep is to firstly expose our bodies to sunlight. The sunlight causes our body to create a hormone called serotonin which wakes us up. Now here is the fun part, when we go into a really dark room that serotonin gets converted into melatonin. So the more serotonin in the body the more melatonin will be made when you go into a dark room.

When your baby was born they would have been born with something called maternal melatonin which comes from the Mother. This then tends to wear off after 2-3 weeks of life. Your child will then have no melatonin flowing through their body until they start to produce their own between 9-12 weeks.

In those weeks where there is no melatonin flowing we need to look at the sleep environment and how setting it up to help with sleep can be really helpful. It can make the difference from having a cat napping baby why only sleeps for 20 minutes or so to having a baby that sleeps longer and has more restorative sleep.

This doesn't mean you need to be at home all day every day as new-born's only have an awake window of 40-60 minutes! Look at making the buggy darker by pulling over the hood or using a snoozeshade as long as it's not too hot in the day.

Let's now look at how we can set up your child's sleep space to be beneficial to more restorative sleep;

We want it dark - I mean really dark, ideally we don't want to be able to see our hand in front of our face when in the room with our child. Now I want to be a little realistic here, it's not always easy to make your room dark dark. Think of the room as 1-10 in darkness, 1 being light and 10 being pitch black. We want the room to be around the 8-9 in darkness if possible. Use blackout blinds or you can also get blackout sticky paper for windows. Blackout curtain liners are a great cheap alternative too. You can also use tin foil or whatever else you have in the house, it doesn't need to be an expensive product to make the room dark.

By placing your child in a dark room from around 3 weeks (even if you are still contact napping, feeding to sleep or putting them down for a nap) this will help with melatonin production. Start with one nap and day in their sleep space and then build up from there.

Darkness is key so please never under estimate it, it's so simple to do and will really help your baby in the long term.

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