15 answers

4 Year Old Wants to Sleep with the Light On

My 4 year old son recently has decided to get out of bed and turn his light on at night. We tried going in is room and turning it off again but it happens so often. Somethimes it happens right away and he will read on his bed for up to an hour before he falls asleep. If he is tried he will go to bed with the light off but every night he will wake up at 2,3 or 4 am turn it back on and then go back to sleep with the light still on. I did go out and buy the lowest Watt light bulb I could find but the light still is visable in our bedroom.
I should mention that he has a night light.
We are considering disconnecting the electricity from the room light so he can't turn it on.
My main question is will sleeping with the light on effect his quality of sleep and has anyone else seen this as a phase?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks for all the advice.
I went ahead and called our peditrican and they said as long as he is not fighting about going to sleep to let him have a dim light on. They thought he would get less sleep if we kept fighting turining the light off then to let him sleep with it on.
It took me some searching but we went from a 60W to a 30 and recentley I found a 15W bulb. It just seems bright when the rest of the house is dark. I really don't want to fight with him since he is not refusing to go to bed. He seems so comfortable with the light on and then falls asleep with no problem. I was just worried about his sleep cycle being afected since he has to go to preshool now.
Since the Ped said it is ok, we will let it go and just make sure he is not over tired.

Featured Answers

Have you tried those cool star/moon/torch lights at Ikea? The can also be used with a 15W low energy bulb, and the ornament disperses the light. My son (4) is going through the same thing, usually the star is enough. They also have regular side table lamps, my son has one with a navy blue shade, which darkens even more. Can also be used with 15W bulb.

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Since the terrible storms recently, my 3 year old has been scared of the dark. He too wanted to sleep with the light on. He too has had a night light (since moving to our new house almost a year ago). I convinced him that he can still see everything with the closet light on and closet door open...then I gradually close the doors a little more. He has the hall light on too until he falls asleep and then just a night light in the hall. So we are going through something KIND of similar. It IS supposed to be bad for their eyes to sleep with the light on from what I hear, so we are trying to work back back toward a normal dark room with just a night light. I'd maybe unscrew the light bulb in his room just enough for it not to work before he goes to bed each night.

My son who is now six went through that stage around 4 years old. We went and purchased a dimmer switch for his room. I don't think they are very difficult to install. He would want the light all the way up when he went to sleep. Once he went to sleep we would turn it partially down or all the way down (not off but uses very little electricity). I do let him look at a book when he lays down to sleep every evening. He has always been a fearful of being by himself at night. He still wants lighting in his room at night but I really don't have a problem with it. He went through a stage where he was coming into our room everynight crying he was scared. I think letting him have the light is less disruptive to his sleep than getting out of bed every night.

My son insists on falling asleep with the overhead light on - he is afraid of the dark and nothing will persuade him otherwise. He gets enough rest so we let him do it and then go and turn it off later.

I would let him have the overhead light on - it must be a comfort for him. I suspect he will more likely grow out of it if you don't make it an issue.

One of my friends installed a dimmer on their son's bedroom light and slowly dimmed the lights until their son was comfortable - I'm thinking of trying that!

Have you tried those cool star/moon/torch lights at Ikea? The can also be used with a 15W low energy bulb, and the ornament disperses the light. My son (4) is going through the same thing, usually the star is enough. They also have regular side table lamps, my son has one with a navy blue shade, which darkens even more. Can also be used with 15W bulb.

My mom is 60 and she has slept with a light on her whole life! She seems well-rested enough. My best friend in high school would leave her light on but put her arm over her eyes. Another friend sleeps with one leg outside the covers. I like to sleep in a room as dark and silent as possible.

I think as long as he's getting enough hours of sleep, I wouldn't worry about it. If he's waking up to turn on the light it sounds like being in the dark is actually what's disturbing him, not the opposite.

Hi J.,
My 4 year old son has been sleeping with the light on for over a year now. At first we tried turning it off, but he always got back up and turned it back on. He is a well rested, smart, happy boy so I don't think it is doing anything that will negatively impact his sleep at all. I remember when I was a little girl I was nervous too without a light so I figure it's a phase and when he is ready he will turn out the light. Even if it takes another 5 years, that's okay. I did buy an environmentally friendly lightbulb for that lamp so it doesn't effect our electricity bill too much! :) Anyhow, have a great weekend!

Hi J.! My son is 4 and he has to have a light on too. He does not like his night light because it makes shadows and they freak him out. He has a light in his closet that we let him have on. He controls how far wide the closet door is open. I think his reasoning is because of the shadows. I don't think that it has affected his sleep at all. He usually sleeps through the night. If he doesn't, it's just to go to the bathroom. He goes right back to sleep. I suppose it is just a phase.


Hi J.,
My son is 4 and had a similar situation. He kept turning his light on also. So, we in turn un-plugged his light & instead, we let him have his closet light in. It is much lighter, therefore doesn't really affect anyone, including him. He had a night light, and that did nothing for him also. So, I'm not sure if maybe there is a closet light in his room, but I am fine with my son having that on as opposed to the regular light. I'm not sure his reasoning behind wanting the light on, but he does sleep better with some light in his room.
Hope this helps!!

my son, 5, just started saying he wants the light on at bedtime too. He has never ever had issues with the dark. We put a night light (one of dayglow dim lights) and have been firm about no other lights while reassuring him that there is no reason to be afraid.

I noticed that he started saying this a few weeks after starting Kindergarten. I think he might have heard something at school or just needs a little extra security now that he is becoming more independent. If that makes sense.

When my son was 3 he had to have the light also, The nightlight was no enough. I checked with the doctor ans she said it was find. Let him have this secruity. If we turn the light off he could not sleep. Once he was comfortable he turned the light off. we have a small night lite in the bathroom, but thats so he can see in the bathroom at night.

I hope this helps.

:) :) lol ...I'm 30 and I'm still afraid of the dark when my husband is away on business. I keep our closet light on. I was like that when I was a --child/teenager/young adult after a scary movie-- too. Alhough now I'm not usually scared. I agree with some of the other mom's here, get a ecofriedly low light bulb. Some of the "green energy" bulbs may be a bit more expensive but they also last a long time and save your energy of course. good luck!

PLEASE let him keep a light on. This is something he needs and there is no reason to withhold it. He may outgrow it and he may not, but so what. Have you tried a 40 watt bulb? GE makes a "Softwhite 40". It is a CFL (compact flourescent) and has 8,000 life hrs. and is very inexpensive to use, pennies for 10 hrs. Second, depending on the lampshade, you will have more or less of a glow. A translucent shade will be brighter than a black shade.
Third, as far as YOU seeing the glow, if you have not already, try different locations in the room so it impacts you less. If you have trouble finding this bulb (and you really should not) email back and I can locate a source for you (inclucd the area where you would shop) Also, it does not HAVE to be a CFL, although that is more ecofriendly. You could just get a regular 40 watt softwhite. After a month or so you could quietly switch to a 25 watt, but if he notices, go back to the 40.

My 5 year old still has issues with the dark. When she was younger, a nightlight just didn't do it for her. If she woke in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, she'd turn the overhead light on and keep it on (much to the annoyance of her older sister).

I found a lamp dimmer at a garage sale. You screw it into the lamp and then screw the light bulb into the dimmer. It has a knob on it so you can make the light as bright or as dim as you like. It's great. It's not as bright as an overhead light but brighter than a night light. We were able to come up with a setting that made her happy but didn't annoy her sister.

A dark room can be very scary to a little one with an active imagination. They do grow out of it. My daughter is happy with a night light now.

Talk to his doctor. It sounds like he might have a sleeping disorder.

My almost 4 year old son has been having issues with this lately as well. Our compromise is that we leave the hall light on all night long with his door open just a crack. This way his room is still dark with a small night light. It is a bit of a pain for us as we have to sleep with our door closed to avoid the bright light, but as long as he is sleeping with no interruptions, it is worth it to us. He used to be o.k. with us turning the hall light off when we went to sleep, but after the bad storms, he insisted on keeping it on all night.

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