Sleep With a Nightlight? Read This

I don't know many adults who sleep with nightlights, but lots of kids do, and did you know that a red nightlight is actually better than a blue?

A new study points out that red is "harmless," while blue light "had the worst effects on mood-related measures, followed closely by white light," according to

The study was done with hamsters, and when these critters were exposed to red light at night, they had "significantly less evidence of depressive-like symptoms and changes in the brain linked to depression, compared to those that experienced blue or white light."

But it's not just for kids trying to get to sleep at night. “Our findings suggest that if we could use red light when appropriate for night-shift workers, it may not have some of the negative effects on their health that white light does,” Randy Nelson, co-author of the study and professor of neuroscience and psychology at The Ohio State University, told

Researchers examined the role of specialized photosensitive cells in the retina that "don’t have a major role in vision, but detect light and send messages to a part of the brain that helps regulate the body’s circadian clock," notes. This is the body’s master clock that helps determine when people feel sleepy and awake.

Other research suggests light-sensitive cells in the retina send messages to parts of the brain that play a role in mood and emotion, reports.  “Light at night may result in parts of the brain regulating mood receiving signals during times of the day when they shouldn’t,” quotes co-author Tracy Bedrosian, a former graduate student at Ohio State who is now a postdoctoral researcher at the Salk Institute. “This may be why light at night seems to be linked to depression in some people.”

What's best of all?  No night light at all.  Total darkness suited the hamsters (and probably humans) the best.


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