By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – If your child is having trouble getting to sleep at night part of the problem may be the amount of light they are exposed to before bed.

Researchers at the University of Colorado found that 3 to 5 year olds who were exposed to bright light before bedtime had suppressed levels of melatonin. Melatonin is essential to our circadian rhythms. Levels are low during the day and rise in the evening to get us ready for sleep.

screen Kids Who Have Trouble Sleeping May Be Exposed To Too Much Bright Light

(WBZ-TV)

Children’s eyes are more sensitive to light than adults. The lenses of their eyes are clearer and let in more light making them particularly susceptible to the suppression of melatonin.

Kids exposed to bright lights at night are still tired but can’t get to sleep easily which can make them overstimulated and cranky. Sound familiar?

So what should parents of preschoolers do?

Experts suggest creating a “cave-like” atmosphere one hour before bed with these tips:

o Turn off bright overhead lights.
o Use light dimmers whenever possible
o Avoid bright lights in the bathroom at night
o Keep nightlights low to the ground so they don’t shine in your child’s eyes
o Avoid screen time before bed
o And stick to a regular bedtime

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