According to studies there is an increase in the number of children experiencing sleep difficulties. The cause of this has been linked to various issues including insufficient exercise, diet and too much exposure to electronic devices such as television, gaming consols, cellphones and tablets.
And while all of the above do contribute to bedtime becoming a nightmare, it is not necessarily the content which is being viewed on these devices that is the issue but rather the devices themselves.
New research has established a link between the amount of blue light in our environment and the increase in sleep problems. All electronic devices emit high levels of blue light as do LED and fluorescent lights. Blue light suppresses the production of melatonin – the sleep hormone – which is needed for the body to prepare for sleep.
Many children watch television or play computer games or are active on their cellphones in the hours before they go to sleep. The blue light that is emitted from these devices is telling the brain to stay awake so that when the lights go out, the result is they are unable to fall asleep.
Furthermore, night lights or other light filtering into the room has the same effect.
Luke David (9) has been a poor sleeper from birth – both getting him to sleep and staying a sleep has been difficult.
According to his parents, it would take up to an hour for him to settle and he would often wake up at night for no reason. As a result he was not getting proper rest and his moods often reflected a degree of fatigue. His poor sleep patterns were also affecting the rest of the family.
Little did Luke’s parents realise that the subdued blue night light which they had put in his room to help with night terrors, was in fact the cause of his sleeplessness.
After having tried various methods from calming music to natural sleep remedies, Luke’s parents heard about SleepSpec Sleep Shades from Dr Daniel, as well as the effect of blue light on one’s sleep patterns.
On the advice of Dr Daniel, the blue light was removed and his bedroom made as dark as possible. A subdued light with an orange tone was placed in a room further down the passage away from his room and Luke started wearing a pair of SleepSpec Sleep Shades for two hours before bedtime.
Within a week, it was taking less than 15 minutes for Luke to settle down and go to sleep and he was waking up far less frequently at night.
Furthermore Luke’s energy levels increased, he is more co-operative at school and his moods have improved.
“Luke presents a classic case of how disruptive blue light can be. His parents had no idea they were actually suppressing melatonin production and in fact sending a message to his brain to wake up by having a blue light in his bedroom,” explains Dr Daniel.
“Just removing the blue light would have made a significant difference however the impact of blue light from other sources prior to going to sleep was still an issue. By wearing SleepSpec Sleep Shades for 2 hours before bedtime, it is clear that melatonin production was taking place as he was able to settle and get to sleep far quicker.”
Due to cases like Luke’s, Dr Daniel is convinced that the use of SleepSpec Sleep Shades by children suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) could help reduce their reliance on medication.
“Many children are potentially being diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, whereas their inability to concentrate may well be from the inability to go to sleep or ‘shut down’ and lack of quality sleep,” says Daniel.
“I hear of cases all the time where children battle to fall asleep until late at night and are not getting the required 8 – 10 hours sleep that is needed to function properly. They wake up tired, are lethargic and unable to concentrate. As a result they are diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, whereas if their bodies’ Circadian Rhythm was re-established through proper melatonin production and they were able to sleep more efficiently – they would wake rested, energised and alert,” he adds.