Nightlights and Child Development

How nightlights are bad for child eye development

Nightlights are a big no-no

About those night lights for your child… Scientists found that children who sleep with a night light grow up short-sighted and wearing glasses. Nightlights also disrupt sleep cycles as melatonin regulates circadian rhythms and sleep/wake schedules. Melatonin is known as the hormone of darkness because light striking the retina of the eye inhibits it. Did you know that melatonin is a powerful antioxidant with cancer prevention properties?

These are some great reasons to keep the bedroom as dark as possible and not use night lights.

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% 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% rate of myopia, while just 10% 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 2 to experience nightmares. Next to family conflicts causing nightmares, most nightmares in children are diet related.

Nightlights cause cancer?

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.

Your body’s ability to fight off cancer relies in part on the hormone melatonin which deficiency has been proven to be a common factor in some cancers. Sleeping with a nightlight effectively shuts off nighttime production of melatonin and disrupts the body’s circadian rhythms, causing stress levels to rise and increasing chances for cancer while hindering your body’s ability to fight existing cancer. A recent nightlight study found that sleeping with a light on actually renders breast cancer completely resistant to the cancer drug tamoxifen.

How about a nightlight causing precocious puberty?

Precocious puberty is the early onset of puberty. A new study shows that birds in the city, exposed to sign lights, street lights and other city sources of night lights develop sexually earlier than the country birds that have no artificial light at night. Scientists have long suspected that artificial light at night affects plants, animals and humans and the light used for this study was a low-intensity night light.

Still want a night light for your child?


Authored by Neurodevelopment Consultant Craig Stellpflug NDC, CNC, Healing Pathways Medical Clinic Scottsdale, AZ
Copyright 2007 Craig Stellpflug© Permission is hereby granted to copy and distribute this article but only in its entirety

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