Did you know that one of the key factors in regulating children's sleep is exposure to light or darkness? And it is that exposure to light stimulates a nerve pathway from the retina in the eye to an area of the brain called the hypothalamus and that is why it is said that the sun influences the sleep of babies.
Light is a powerful guide for our bodies, as light rays influence chemistry and behavior and keep us in sync throughout the day. The day-night pattern, being awake during the day and sleeping at night, is a natural part of human life.
But what happens when we expose ourselves to the sun? As we have said, the hypothalamus is stimulated. There, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) initiates signals to other parts of the brain that control hormones, body temperature, and other functions that play an important role in making us feel sleepy or awake.
The SCN functions as a clock 'our internal clock', which activates a regulated pattern of activities that affect the entire body. Once exposed to first light each day, the clock in the SCN begins to perform functions such as raising body temperature and releasing stimulating hormones such as cortisol. SCN also delays the release of other hormones such as melatonin, which is associated with the onset of sleep, until many hours later, when darkness arrives.
The body's master clock, or SCN, controls the production of melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleep. Since it is located just above the optic nerves, which transmit information from the eyes to the brain, the SCN receives information about the incoming light. When there is less light like at night, the SCN tells the brain to make more melatonin to make you drowsy.
Sunlight helps start the day, and just as light can suppress melatonin, it can also increase cortisol. Cortisol and melatonin work in opposites. When one is tall, the other is short.
A big reason blue light should be avoided at night is because of its cortisol-stimulating and melatonin-suppressing effects. But cortisol levels should be higher in the morning. We need this increase in cortisol to get out of bed and into our day.
Light helps the body create an optimal circadian rhythm, so going out in the morning for a walk with our children when the sun rises is a great way to signal to their bodies that it is daytime.
Every morning, if their bodies, faces, and eyes are exposed to sunlight, their bodies will increase their production of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates everything from mood to sleep.
Serotonin is also a precursor to melatonin. Melatonin is necessary for a deep restful sleep. So going out in the sun in the morning increases serotonin production. In turn, after approximately 12 hours, this serotonin turns into melatonin, which helps us sleep better.
It is clear enough that the sun is beneficial for health and sleep, for this reason it is important to go for a walk, play, go to the park or perform outdoor activities, since all these actions help children to improve the quality of your sleep and to reconcile it better when night comes.
The sun marks our day to day, we know that it is necessary for every living being, healthy and it is also a good therapy to improve children's sleep.
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