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My son is 3 years old, and he needs a light on to fall
asleep. Is that OK? It seems too bright to me, but he insists on it.
Dim or dimmer?
For the most part, light at night isn't a good idea. Even a
moderately bright light during the night sends the wrong signals to the body's
internal clock, which naturally wants darkness during sleeping hours. When we
do sleep consultations, we always ask parents to lower the shades and turn on
all the lights that might be on during a typical night—it's very common for too
much light to come from overhead, hall or even night lights and electronics.
I'd recommend nothing more than a very dim nightlight.
Kids get hooked on leaving lights on, just as with any other
sleep habit, but it's almost always possible to wean them off. You could
gradually lower the lights every other night. Tell your son you're doing this,
rather than trying to trick him, because eventually he'll catch on. Or
practice other comforting techniques to combat fears of the dark.
If he says
he's afraid, tell him what you do when you're afraid and what you did as a kid when you were afraid. Practice shifting your mind to a positive story or image. (There are lots of
other techniques for working with fears of the dark and separation anxiety in
the preschool chapter of "The Happy