Can I Leave A Night Lamp On All Night?
There are various reasons you might be thinking of leaving your night lamp on during the evening and while you sleep: to ward off thieves, to generate heat during winter, or even because you're afraid of the dark (this happens to people of all ages). Nonetheless, it's important to analyze the disadvantages or risks that cannot be overlooked.
Disadvantages And Risks When You Use The Night Lamp
It was very common in ancient times (before electricity) to experience or witness fire accidents in bedrooms or other spaces owing to the fact that homes were literally lit (no pun intended) by fire from kerosene candles, torches, or similar.
With the advent of electricity, ordinary incandescent light bulbs reduced fire hazards by quite a lot, but these devices weren't yet fire-proof. Many people nowadays still use incandescent light bulbs in their homes (although they're gradually falling into disuse). Incandescent bulbs are very energy-inefficient compared to other modern types of bulbs, as 95% of the energy used is lost in heat and only 5% is converted to visible light. Needless to say, with all that heat, there is a potential fire. This may also cause considerable spikes in your electric bill.
The chances of incandescent bulbs catching fire are slim, but it's something to keep in mind. It's not uncommon for them to overheat and cause problems when entering into contact with other objects or animals accidentally. If your night lamp has an incandescent light bulb, check if it gets too hot after a while. If in the course of 1 hour you don't feel much temperature difference, it's relatively safe to leave it on all night. Don't forget to check this regularly, as they tend to get defective quickly.
However, it's always recommended to change to a LED light bulb. It consumes 75% less energy and the chances of catching fire are next to none since they don't produce any heat. They are also relatively cheap when you take into account the long-term costs.
Now, let's consider other implications:
Should You Sleep With A Light On?
There are reasons that people usually sleep at night. Your biological clock is originally designed to produce melatonin through the pineal gland in your brain. This hormone synchronizes and regulates your sleep-wake cycle (also called circadian rhythm) and blood pressure. Melatonin is produced in reaction to darkness, inducing drowsiness and preparing the body for sleep.
According to a study published on the NIH site, artificial light suppresses melatonin production, producing circadian disruption and sleep deprivation. Needless to say, this desynchronization of your sleep cycle is likely to produce other negative consequences on your health, including more exposure to cancer, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular problems, among others.
This actually makes a lot of sense. Light allows us to see things, making it easier to get distracted and focus our attention on stuff in our environment. This type of brain activity ceases in pitch darkness since the brain's "radar" is unable to detect any signal from our corneas, thus triggering the pineal gland's melatonin production.
Linking this to light bulbs, one of the downsides to using LED bulbs is the fact that, according to another study, the circadian rhythm is more sensitive to blue light, leading to more melatonin suppression. This type of light is also emitted by other devices such as cellphones and modern TVs, which are recurrently present in many bedrooms.
With all this said, now you might be thinking: "I just close my eyes and problem solved!"
To which I respond: It's not that easy. Have you ever faced the sun with your eyes closed? If you have, then you'll notice how the lids look reddish. That's because they are not capable of completely blocking light from reaching the cornea. The same happens with artificial light, even in dimmer environments. This often produces eye strain, which will eventually affect how you function in day-to-day life.
Is it possible to leave a night lamp on all night? Yes, it's possible, but not recommended for the reasons exposed above. If you suffer from nyctophobia (fear of darkness) you might consider getting lamps with a built-in dimmer to adjust the intensity as you start feeling sleepy, and that way you gradually get used to dark environments optimal for sleep.