top of page

Why keep the curtains closed?

Understanding the importance of establishing a healthy sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, in newborns is crucial for new parents. It helps in setting the foundation for good sleep habits throughout a child's early development. Here's why managing the environment in terms of light is key, and why keeping curtains closed during the day may not always be beneficial:


Newborns do not arrive with fully developed circadian rhythms. Exposure to natural daylight helps to set these biological clocks, aligning their sleep patterns with the natural world. This means that during the day, keeping the curtains open and allowing natural light to enter helps signal to the baby that it’s time to be awake and alert.


Daylight Exposure

Newborns come into the world needing to adapt from the constant darkness of the womb to the light-dark cycle of the outside world. Keeping the curtains open during the day introduces them to natural light, which helps regulate their internal clocks. Natural light is a powerful cue for the body, signalling when it’s time to be awake and active.


Exposure to natural light has health benefits beyond sleep for babies, including the promotion of vitamin D synthesis, which is important for bone development. Adequate daytime light exposure can also help improve mood and is linked to better eye development.


Exposure to daylight can make active periods during the day more distinct from quieter times at night, which can promote more consolidated sleep during the night.


While it’s beneficial to expose a baby to natural light during the day, it’s important to protect them from direct sunlight to avoid harmful effects, such as sunburn. Use a light curtain or shade to diffuse light adequately when needed. Understanding and using light exposure thoughtfully can make a significant difference in establishing healthy sleep habits and promoting overall well-being for newborns.


Night time Darkness

Keeping the environment dark at night helps reinforce to the newborn that night is for sleep. This aids in gradually lengthening their sleep periods at night, although it’s normal for newborns to wake frequently due to their small stomach and need for regular feedings.

Cues for Sleep: Darkness cues the release of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep, further aiding in the development of a regular sleep pattern.


Frequent Feeding

Newborns have tiny stomachs and need to feed often, both day and night. This frequent feeding is necessary for their rapid development and also ensures they receive adequate nutrition and hydration. Parents should anticipate and prepare for disrupted sleep as part of the normal routine when caring for a newborn.


Understanding that the newborn phase involves frequent awakenings can help parents mentally and physically prepare for this stage. Setting up a supportive environment with help from partners or family can manage sleep disruptions better.


Where possible, parents can try to sleep when the baby sleeps to catch up on rest. Sharing night time responsibilities between parents can also help manage the overall impact on sleep.


By fostering an environment aligned with natural light cycles—open curtains during the day and closed at night—parents can help their newborns adjust to life outside the womb and establish healthier sleep patterns. However, it's important to be realistic and patient as these routines take time to establish. The first few months require flexibility and adaptation as everyone finds their rhythm.


bottom of page