30 answers

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.

What can I do next?

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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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.

1 mom found this helpful

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!!

1 mom found this helpful

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.

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!)

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.

i slept with a light on until i was in college

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.

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.

I had a nightlight on in the hallway when I was a child. It made sense as I was scared of the dark and it allowed others to negotiate the hallway and go to the bathroom, without turning on the overhead light. However, I am pretty sure it was done away with before I was 7.

I think it is time for the light to go away. It is just wasteful. I would mention it to your child that he is not a little child anymore and he needs to be responsible about electrical use. If he REALLY wants a light, get a low-wattage nightlight.

As long as both of you are getting enough sleep (and your power bill isnt too high!) I say there is nothing wrong with it! Sometimes as parents you gotta do what ya gotta do to survive! My daughter sleeps with 2 night lights on in her room. Its not as bright has having her bedroom light on, but they give off enough light so you can see.

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.

I slept with the light on and I turned out fine. It wasn't because I was afraid but I like to read in bed. Sometime it would be the big room light, other times it would be a smaller book light. My daughter, now 13, sometimes sleeps with the light on. I try to have a small light for her because if the big light is on she is more likely to be out of bed doing things in her room late at night so I have to make sure the light is dim or it keeps her too active now. It hasn't posed a problem for sleepovers. It seems she can sleep either way. For a while I could only sleep with the light on, then I went through a phase where it had to be pitch black for me to sleep. I don't think its a problem though.

B.

My son has a string of 'Cars' movie lights across the top of this mirror. Before that he had a string of Tonka Christmas lights.They don't use up that much electricity. Do they have a favorite team? Is their room(s) decorated a certain way? You could probably find stringed lights that would work into the theme, let them have their light, and still be 'cool'.
M.

If you child's more comfortable and better able to get precious sleep with a bit of light, do what works and please don't let it bug you. Are you concerned about what the "friend who brought it up" or others will say about him or about you? Did the friend present it in a way that was judgmental? Why would they even know whether your son sleeps with a light on or standing on his head? The poster who said this is a fragile age is right; let him do what he needs to do. You're lucky if he's just getting sleep. I know adults who want a light on all night, either for comfort or for safety. As for whether it wastes electricity, well, a night-light or even one brighter light probably isn't going to waste as much energy as most of us waste running our computers all day, driving that extra trip we didn't need to make, etc. Enjoy your child and he'll either outgrow this or keep doing it, and either way, it's not as big a deal as many other issues we'll all eventually face with our kids.

I'm almost 33 and sleep with 3 nightlights. One in our room. One in the hall and one in the bathroom. I don't think it's a big deal unless he shares a room and is keeping his roommate awake.

I wouldn't worry about it unless it's affecting his sleep. I remember vividly as a child going through different cycles where I had to have a light on or I had to have it dark or I needed music or I need complete silence. If you want to try and break him from it he's definitely old enough to talk to and reason with. See if he'd be willing to go to a night light in his room or perhaps one in the hall. He's probably just used to it since you said he's always had some sort of light. But I think as long as he's getting enough sleep he should fine either way.

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.

I guess the issue is, do you think it's a big deal? Personally, I always leave a light on, a nightlight in the kid's rooms and one in the kitchen. I figured if it will keep my children secure if they happen to wake in the night, it's worth it-they don't use that much electricity. What happens if they have to go to the bathroom?

M., Please do not worry about your son sleeping with a light on. I have three children and all three are different. The oldest wanted a light until he was 10 then liked it dark at night. The baby (9 now)has always liked her door shut and it pitch black when she sleeps. The middle child, has always wanted a light on. As long as the light is not disrupting your son's sleep or yours I would not worry about it. Every person has our own individual preferences for sleep. Take care!

He's only ten...what does it hurt? If the nightlight is in his eyes it can affect his vision, however. My eleven year old says maybe he's scared. He said to tell him to try out not having the light on for one night. You tell him you will leave your door open. We all have our fears, yes? Do you know that you should have a light on in the house that would illuminate an intruder from your angle of vision without having yourself illuminated?

I also have a ten year old. She has always needed the light on. I truly think that some kids just can't shut off their imaginations and laying in bed at night alone can be scary. All sorts of noises wind, furnaces, creaky houses, leaves, etc can have them laying there scared out of their wits. I was like that myself so I try to just let her do whatever she needs to cope. Of course there are limits like no stimulation like TV or music and video games. Just try to be sympathetic.

Don't worry about it. I have an 11 year old who just grew out of sleeping with the light on. It might make them feel more comfortable.

My daughter always wanted a night light on when she was younger and now grown with children she still has one on in the house for her kids. She is not afraid now, but as a child was very afraid of the dark. If your son likes a night light, leave it on, even if it is in the hallway or bathroom close to his room. I certainly wouldn't worry about what other people say, it's your child and you should do whatever it takes to make him feel secure and safe. Don't allow others to make a big production on it either, all that will do is undermine his self-esteem and destroy his confidence.

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.

Dear M.-
I still sleep with a light on! (I am 48 years young!)

I thought I would be 'cured' when my family had moved to england. I came over on college break, and my mom had gotten me an antique brassbed, and set up my 'new room', only there was no lamp next to the bed. Everyone else was asleep, but I was awake from jet lag. I decided to be brave, and turn out the light and take a flying 'leap' into bed so my feet would not have to touch the floor in the dark...

I neglected to account for the 'new' antique bed being higher up, and the bed caught me midline, and I crashed in a heap on the floor! My parents came running...and we laughed for quite some time! (and moved a lamp to the bedside). We still laugh to this day!

I would not worry about this AT ALL! :)

TC
Michele/C.

Hi M.,

Get a night light and turn off the over head light.
If your son complains, then you will have a problem to solve.

Let me know how things turn out. Just want to know. Good luck. D.

M.,

I don't think its a big deal. Is he asking for the light on or do you just keep it on. I have night lights in both of the kids rooms. They don't ask for them, but it makes it easire for me when I go in to check on them at night. I think if I didn't turm them on, they wouldn't worry about it, but I feel better when I can see them and make sure their OK.

M.

mine just turned 8 and she still likes her door open or a light on. she says she has bad dreams if the room is dark. she falls asleep so fast though i just turn it off before i go to bed. i dont think she notices. many adults even need lights on weither its to see to get to the bathroom at night or to calm their feers or just out of habit. i wouldnt worry about it althoug maybe you could ask him why he needs it. also an idea is to give him flashlight that he can turn of if he feels he needs it but that should stay off when his eyes are closed.

I have 2 daughters ( 12 and 13). One likes all lights out and door closed. The other likes the light on and door opened all the way! I don't let it bother me. I just turn it out when she finally goes to sleep and make sure the hall light is on in case she wakes up and has to go to the bathroom. My thought is whatever gets them to go to sleep peacefully. Don't worry about what your friend says. you have to do what works for you and your children. I always tell my husband, "We will do what ever we have to, to get us through the night." We also have 2 young ones. Good Luck and sleep tight! :)

Dear M.,

My 95-year-old grandmother still sleeps with a night light. There's not a thing wrong with it-- just a personal preference.

I realize that such things bother some people, but I tend to ignore people that want to micromanage other people's lives. It makes life much less stressful!

As long as you don't mind paying for the electricity, there's no reason anyone should have to sleep in total darkness or with a night light if they don't want to. It doesn't hurt anything!

Blessings,

J.

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