How to design the right lighting for your newborn baby's room and support their circadian rhythm

Within every human (and possibly all living organisms on planet earth) there is the biological version of a clock, called the circadian rhythm. It is an intricate built-in mechanism in our cells that for millions of years we have relied upon to ensure the best use of daylight hours and promote rest in the darkness. 

Our body clock determines our daily life experience: our energy levels; the quality of our sleep; peak concentration and focus times; levels of motivation; and, even our creativity.  

It's no surprise that your little one has one too and nurturing it can help maintain a balance between sleep and wakefulness.

Our body clock is affected by various stimuli, most notably light. In particular, exposure to bright light during the morning and low light in the evening can help synchronize our circadian rhythm, leading to better sleep patterns. Helping your newborn develop a healthy sleep/wake pattern and allowing you some time for rest whilst your baby sleeps.

Sunrise and sunset provide the perfect opportunity for your baby to receive natural light exposure. During sunrise, the sky is filled with warm, soft light, which helps the body release cortisol, a hormone that helps regulate wakefulness. In contrast, during sunset, the sky is filled with warm, golden light, which helps the body release melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleepiness. These natural light cycles help to regulate the circadian rhythm, leading to better sleep patterns.

We may not always be able to control the natural light, but luckily artificial lighting can help us achieve the right lighting levels, colours and positioning to mimic the sunrise and sunset.

Designing the right lighting for a newborn baby's room is essential to helping your newborn sync with their circadian rhythm. Good lighting can help with your baby's sleep, feeding and changing routine. Here are some tips to help you design the best lighting for your newborn's room:

  1. Opt for LED lighting: LED lights are energy-efficient, long-lasting, and don’t get hot to the touch, making them a safe option for a baby’s room. They also come in a range of warm tones that can be used to create a cosy and inviting atmosphere.
  2. LED lights allow you to adjust colour temperature: adjustable colour temperature can help mimic the natural light patterns throughout the day and support your baby's circadian rhythm. For example, you can use warm light in the evening to create a calming environment for bedtime and cool light during the day to help alertness.

  3. Choose soft and warm lighting: A newborn's eyes are not fully developed, so they are more sensitive to bright light. To avoid damaging their eyes, it's best to use soft and warm lighting that is not too harsh. This can be achieved by using lamps or light fixtures with low-wattage bulbs or by using a dimmer switch to adjust the brightness as needed.

  4. Avoid blue light: Blue light has been shown to disrupt sleep patterns and can negatively affect a baby's sleep quality. To avoid this, avoid using LED lights with high levels of blue light or using electronic devices such as phones or tablets in the baby's room.

  5. Use an amber coloured night light: An amber coloured night light can provide a soft, warm glow in your baby's room, which can help soothe and make it easier for you to check on them during night-time feedings and changes. Position it well below eye level to mimic the position of a sunset.

  6. Have multiple lighting sources: Having multiple lighting sources in the room can help you create different moods and adjust the lighting as needed. For example, you could use a combination of a ceiling light, table lamp, and wall sconce to create a well-lit room.

  7. Control natural light: Natural light is a great source of light for a baby's room as it provides a soft and warm glow. Make sure to use curtains or blinds to control the amount of light entering the room and keep the room bright but not too bright during the day.

In conclusion, designing the right lighting for a newborn baby's room is important to ensure a safe, comfortable, and conducive environment for both you and your baby. By following these tips and choosing soft and warm lighting, opting for LED lights, using LED lighting with adjustable color temperature, avoiding blue light, using a night light, having multiple lighting sources, and considering natural light, you can create the perfect lighting solution for your little one's room that supports their circadian rhythm.