If you’re concerned that your child is not getting enough sleep, here’s one way to help him or her rest better and longer. Remove the television and other small electronics from your child’s bedroom.
According to a new study, children who sleep with televisions or other small-screened devices – such as smartphones and tablets – in their bedrooms, spend less time sleeping than children without those devices in their rooms.
“While more studies are needed to confirm our results, we know that too much screen time is bad for children’s health in multiple ways,” said Jennifer Falbe, the study’s lead author from the University of California, Berkley.
Other studies have linked having a televisions in a child’s bedroom to poorer sleep, but there hasn’t been much research into the impact of smaller electronic devices in children’s bedrooms and sleep.
For the new study, Falbe and colleagues used data from 2,048 fourth- and seventh-graders enrolled in an obesity study in Massachusetts. Researchers found that kids with TVs in their rooms slept about 18 minutes less than kids without TVs in their rooms. When they looked at the effect of sleeping next to small screens, the time spent not sleeping increased to 21 minutes. Less sleep is often tied to other issues including obesity and academic performance.
The children that slept next to small screens also reported feeling as if they didn’t get enough sleep during the night.
Not surprisingly, researchers noted that watching TV and playing video games before bedtime, including those on a computer, was also linked to less sleep.
There are a number of reasons why televisions and small-screened electronics may result in worse sleep, such as the bright light of screens before bed, sounds and alerts and more sedentary activity to name a few
“Parents can keep screen media out of the child’s bedroom, limit total screen time and set a screen time curfew,” Falbe said.
A recent study revealed that reading e-readers, instead of paper books, before bed can actually make you more alert than sleepy. The electronic light appears to shift the body’s circadian rhythms delaying the production of the hormone melatonin.
So it’s no surprise that television, computer, tablet or smartphone light could do the same thing. Watching TV or participating on smaller screen activity also stimulates the brain instead of sending the signal to relax and fall to sleep.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under two avoid screens altogether and that parents establish a “screen-free” zone in the home. Results from this study strongly suggest that one of the screen-free zones be in your child’s bedroom.
Source: Andrew M. Seaman, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/05/us-electronics-pediatrics-sleep-idUSKBN0KE1SI20150105