May is Better Sleep Awareness Month
How Screen Time Affects Kids’ Sleep
Your body and your brain need sleep. During sleep, the brain sorts through and stores information, replaces chemicals and even solves problems while you snooze. Most kids don’t get enough sleep. Kids ages 5 to 12 need nine to twelve hours of sleep each night. Not every child is the same and some need more sleep than others.
Remember the last time you didn’t get enough sleep? That heavy, groggy feeling is awful and when you feel that way, you’re not at your best. Without enough sleep, kids can feel moody, tired or cranky. It might be hard to pay attention or follow directions. Schoolwork that’s normally easy may feel impossible or they may feel clumsy playing their favorite sport or instrument. One more reason to get enough sleep: If they don’t, kids might not grow as well. It’s a fact: Too little sleep can affect growth and their germ-fighting immune system, which keeps them from getting sick.
According to Dr. Gwen Dewar’s Parenting Science website, researchers believe that electronic media especially when used at bedtime put kids at risk for sleep trouble. There are several reasons:
- Experiments confirm that the blue light emitted by electronic screens can suppress melatonin levels and reprogram the brain to delay sleepiness.
- The exciting (and sometimes distressing) content of electronic media may have the same effect, prompting children to fall asleep later and even wake up during the night.
- In countries around the world, the use of electronic media has been linked with sleep problems in children including delayed sleep onset, shorter sleep times and daytime drowsiness.
Here are some ways you can reduce the negative effects of screen time on your child’s sleep:
- Avoid digital technology use in the hour before bedtime. This includes mobile phones, tablets, computer screens and TV. Encourage reading or quiet play instead.
- Limit and monitor violent content at any time of day. This can affect sleep regardless of the time and length of use.
- Encourage your child to connect with friends during the day rather than late in the evening.
- A Parent’s Nightmare: When kids can’t sleep - Connect Community - Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (bcbsil.com)
- Memorial Health Blog | Unplug That Screen – You Can Do It! - Memorial Health Blog
- Melatonin For Kids: How to safely get your child to sleep | OSF HealthCare
- Say Goodnight: Getting your child to sleep | Yakima Valley Memorial (yakimamemorial.org)