Your body produces melatonin at night while you sleep, but it is more than just a sleep aid. Melatonin promotes the immune system and allows your body to balance other hormones, fight cancer, and other important functions, all while you are sleeping. Health professionals are often professing the importance of sleep to your health, and this production of melatonin is one of the many reasons your sleep is important.
A recent study conducted at Harvard University suggests that the use of a night light–or any other light-emitting electronic for that matter–can suppress or even cancel out melatonin production in the body while you sleep. The sleep study took into account the participants’ melatonin production without the presence of any light in the room, then compared it with the amount of melatonin produced with the use of a dim night-light. The results showed that 73.5% of the participants experienced a drop in their melatonin production with the use of a night light. This is only the results of one study, so further observation is needed in order to confirm the findings, however this is enough to at least make you think about the use of a night light in your own bedroom, or in the bedrooms of your children.
Many people sleep with a small night light to prevent stumbling in the dark on the way to the kitchen or bathroom, or for use in their children’s rooms. Even more people own alarm clocks that emit light or electronics such as computer screens or cell phones that flash or light up in their bedrooms. Take inventory of what is in your bedroom, especially if you have trouble sleeping, and eliminate any unnecessary items that may be interrupting your sleep. The preliminary studies show that even if you are sleeping, night lights may hamper your body’s ability to produce melatonin, which is necessary for a rejuvenating sleep.
For questions about any other sleep issues, check out our website’s section on sleep and sleep disorders.