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Nightlights and Child Development
Craig Stellpflug NDC, Neuro Development Consultant
Healing Pathways Medical Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ
Copyright©2012 Craig Stellpflug All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to print and distribute this article in its entirety.
March 13, 2012 Lifestyle:
About those night lights for your child… Scientists found that children who sleep with a night light grow up short-sighted and wearing glasses. Also, melatonin is known as the hormone of darkness because light striking the retina of the eye inhibits it. These are two good reasons to keep the bedroom as dark as possible and not use night lights. Melatonin regulates circadian rhythms and sleep/wake schedules and is a powerful antioxidant with cancer prevention properties.
Even low levels of light can penetrate the eyelids during sleep. This keeps the eyes working when they should be resting. A period of full darkness is needed every night to produce appropriate eye growth. The infant’s and child’s eyes develop at a rapid pace and keeping it dark at night can ward off vision trouble later in life.
Night lights are not for infants, they are for mom and dad
CNN reports from the journal Nature that young children who sleep with a light on may have a substantially higher risk of developing nearsightedness as they get older. The collaborative study of 479 children by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found 55 percent of children who slept with a room light on before age 2 had myopia, or nearsightedness, between ages 2 and 16. Children who sleep with a nightlight before age 2, have a 34 percent rate of myopia, while just 10 percent of children who sleep in darkness become nearsighted.
The biggest reason parents give for nightlights is for the child's comfort and for supposedly thwarting nightmares. It is actually rare for a child under two to experience nightmares. Next to family conflicts causing nighmares, most nightmares in children are diet related.
There was also a recent report that suggested that exposure to light at night may be a cause for the increased incidence of childhood leukemia. This happened at a discussion among childhood leukemia specialists at a medical conference in London. There is some research behind this idea, including that adult night shift workers, who have an increased exposure to bright lights at night, have an increased risk of breast cancer and colorectal cancer.
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