If you are looking to ensure that your child gets a good night’s sleep, you may want to keep an eye on the amount of time spent in front of screens – televisions, computers, and videogames – especially near bedtime.
A recent study found that children aged 3-5 who had a television in their room were much more likely to have sleep problems. The study, completed by Seattle Children’s Research Institute and the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington, monitored the sleep habits of over 600 children – a portion of who were exposed to about 75 minutes of screen time during the day and near bedtime. Those that who did watch TV experienced more difficulty falling asleep, nightmares, trouble waking up in the morning, and tiredness the following day.
Epidemiologist Michelle Garrison explains that although most parents are aware that some media programming is not appropriate for young children, many are shocked to realize that even high-quality children’s programming like Sesame Street may not be a good idea near bedtime. She states: “Since we as adults often turn to TV for relaxation, it’s easy to assume that it’s also a calming experience for young children – but those ‘zoned-out,’ glazed-over faces that young children often get while watching TV are often a sign of a brain that’s over-stimulated and overwhelmed, not relaxed.”
Sleep deprivation amongst children in this age group is associated with injuries and behavioral problems. To help young children sleep best, pediatricians recommend that parents turn off electronic media by 7:00 p.m, and practice simple nighttime rituals such as bedtime stories, or cuddling with parents.