May 18, 2008,
M.M. asks from Baltimore, MD on May 14, 2008
Sleeping with the Light On
My question is very simple, nothing as major as many other issues, but just the same lately it has been bugging me-should it be a big deal that my kid is 10 years old and sleeps with the light on. Ever since I can remember there has been some light on in the house at night when my son sleeps. I never really thought too much about it until a friend brought it up to me and now I have been thinking about it a lot.
So What Happened?™
Thank you to all for your helpful comments. I did ask my son why he felt the need to sleep with the light and his answer was like one of the mom's giving advice; he was afraid that something bad would happen. We talked about it, and I let him sleep with it for now and just turn it out when he's asleep. Bottom line for me, no one can make the choices on how to raise my son but me, besides my mom still sleeps with the light on so I know it can't be that bad. Thanks again to everyone.
Q.R. answers from Cumberland on May 18, 2008
I don't think it's a big deal at all. Don't sweat the small stuff. My hubbie is 37 and if had his way he would still sleep with some sort of light on and he's in the military,served overseas and has 8 children of his own. There is nothing wrong with him.
Actually we have a 11 year old that still prefers a night light. He likes to know where he's going if he has to get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
K.S. answers from Richmond on May 16, 2008
I'm 34 and I still sleep with a light on. I just like it that if I do wake in the night I am not disoriented by complete darkness. And I usually fall asleep reading anyway. My husband hates it, but I don't think it is anything to worry about. Everybody is different and there are far bigger things to worry about in the grand scheme of things.
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C.S. answers from Richmond on May 15, 2008
My son did the same thing, but eventually grew out of it. He wasn't exactly scared of the dark, just felt more comfortable and able to relax with some sort of light. He was probably around 12 when he no longer felt he needed a light. We never made him feel bad or wrong for wanting a light on and he just outgrew the need on his own.
K.S. answers from Washington DC on May 15, 2008
It matters yes and no. No if its just a night light, thats not a huge deal. BUT if its an over head light or a lamp it matters. I read that when you sleep w/ the light on your body doesnt ever register into that deep rem sleep that you need. So you can often wake up groggy or be grouchy or feel tired....
So he may not be getting as good a nights rest as he could and should be getting. Your brain and body requires that rem sleep for overall good health. So the darker the better. Hope this helps.
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F.B. answers from Charlottesville on May 15, 2008
When there are lights on your eyes don't rest, even though your eye lids are closed, your eye sense the light and keep responding. This can lead to the need for glasses sooner, since your eyes never get a break. Also, the light/dark cycle is the strongest cue to your bodies circadian system and it doesn't function as well when there is constant light sources, even if it goes from bright to dim. The smallest consequence is that the quality of the rest is not as good, but that along with other circadian problems can lead to health problems. It's probably not a dire situation like if he was up all night long, but it's much better to sleep in as dark a setting as possible. My 3 yr old sleeps in total darkness with room darkening shades and we don't even leave the hall light on once he's in bed, so there is no light. Years of doing circadian research made me a stickler for that. Good luck!!
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M.F. answers from Washington DC on May 14, 2008
It's funny you should ask this, because I've recently wondered about the same issue. My daughter is also ten, and still insists on sleeping with a light on (brighter than a nitelight, but dimmer than "regular" lighting -- we use a 20-40 watt bulb in a novelty lamp that emits a soft green and yellow glow).
After talking this over with some girlfriends (including one who is a pediatrician and one who is a child psychologist) I decided to let it be. My daughter is obviously afraid of the dark -- and depsite the fact that her fear isn't "rational", I've come to believe that I should respect her wishes.
I HAVE noticed, however, that some of her friends tease her about this during sleepovers. Part of me was hoping that this would convince her to try sleeping without the lights...but part of me is proud of her for not giving in to peer pressure -- and not even feeling embarrassed about her need to sleep with the lights on.
Assuming that they outgrow this phase before college, I can't really think of any reasons to be concerned...unless you are concerned about "wasting" electricity as some other commenters suggested. On the other hand, if your child needs this, I wouldn't think of it as a "waste", but rather as a temporary necessity.
S.M. answers from Washington DC on May 14, 2008
The reason for removing the light is because I would worry that it is affecting his sleep cycle. Our bodies use light to tell us when to sleep and wake. This is one reason we put our nightlights in the hall, not in the bedrooms, at our house. Another reason is that if you ever find yourself in a place where you cannot have light - maybe another sleepover - it may be quite stressful for him. I know I couldn't sleep with a light ON at night.
However, ten is a fragile age - not a baby, not a teen. I am sure it would be much more traumatic to remove it than is worth the bother. There is nothing wrong with your kid wanting the light, he is used to it. And there is nothing wrong with being afraid of the dark, if that is the issue. He will outgrow it. I would just look for opportuities to remove it or tone it down over the next year or so. Maybe the light will "conveniently" break and you'll need to get a nightlight. Or maybe you and your son can redecorate a big guy room and find a now less invasive light source if not taking it out altogether.
I guess my point is, I don't think the light is optimal, but it is not the end of the world. (I know people who leave a tv on at night in their kid's room for noise so the kid can sleep - nuts!)
L.S. answers from Washington DC on May 15, 2008
I think this issue isn't too uncommon. I have 10 year old twins that like a night light and the hall light on. During thunder storms and some nights if they are feeling insecure, they keep a lamp on. If it helps them to sleep, and they don't get up during the night, there really isn't any harm. Try putting in a low wattage bulb or turning it off when you go to bed. Don't let someone else dictate what is "normal" behavior. If it works for you and your son, then it is normal for you. Good luck with school! I have the utmost respect for single mothers. You make it all look so easy, and I'm sure it isn't.
J.W. answers from Norfolk on May 15, 2008
i slept with a light on until i was in college
T.P. answers from Washington DC on May 14, 2008
Hi M. M. I have a 11 yr old and 16 yr old step sons that sleep with the light on. Their father and I sometimes get into discussions about that b/c for one, they dont pay the electric bill. I too live in Baltimore and the electric is not cheap the way they are raising the price. Two, they are too big to be sleeping with the light on. I always tell him and them, when you close your eyes all you are going to see is dark. We have a 3 yr old daughter that has been sleeping with the door closed and light off since she was born. Those are just some habits that they are going to have to grow out of and get over. You can try to slowly help him grow out of and assure him that there is nothing wrong with sleeping with the light off.
I am a sometimes hard mom and teach my children to be tuff and independant. You can too.
E.S. answers from Roanoke on May 15, 2008
If it was not a concern for you prior to your friend bringing it up, why does it concern you now? I have three children of varying ages. Each of them prefers a different amount of light while they sleep.
There are actually very pratical reasons for keeping a nightlight on. If your son needs to get up during the night to use the bathroom, having a light on improves his safety while maneuvering through the house. It also helps you when you need to check on him or get to him when he has a bad dream.
Anytime we have guests in our home, we turn on a light so that they are more comfortable and can get around more easily. I also keep a nightlight plugged in on our staircase--again for safety reasons.
I don't think there is any reason to worry about your son wanting a light on. If he sleeps well through the night and wakes up rested and happy, don't worry. There may come a day that he prefers the dark. . . but if not, I'm not convinced that it really matters.