Tablets and Smartphones Cause Sleep Problems in Children
Devices like smart phones, tablets, and computers are a part of everyday life for both children and adults. It has become a part of life for young children to be exposed to screens with backlights on a regular basis. Before they are able to read, children know how to unlock smartphones and tablets to find applications with their games and then play the games. These activities are fun and even educational for a child but devices with backlights can impact sleep patterns in children just as they do adults. Devices that emit the “blue light” work against the hormone melatonin, which is responsible for creating the drowsiness your body needs to promote sleepiness. In a poll conducted by the National Sleep foundation, more than 1,000 parents estimated the average amount of sleep their children get. Children aged 6 to 10 got approximately 8.9 hours, children aged 11 and 12 got approximately 8.2 hours, children aged 13 and 14 averaged 7.7 hours, and teens aged 15 through 17 averaged 7.1 hours. While these numbers are higher than the average adult’s hours of sleep, the experts say experts need more sleep than adults. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 10 to 11 hours of sleep for children aged 6 to 10 and 8.5 to 9.5 hours per night for kids in the other groups.
In this study, parents rated sleep as “extremely or very important for their children’s performance in school as well as their health, mood, and behavior the next day.” If you want your child to have better sleep for more time per night, a simple change in behavior is to limit technology in the bedroom near bedtime. Nearly 75 percent of children aged 6 to 17 have at least one electronic device in their bedroom.
The lead author of the study, Teresa Arora, said “using technology in the bedroom may result in sleep loss, delays in initiating sleep, daytime sleepiness, and more. In turn this may affect daytime performance, particularly at school.” Other studies have linked sleep deprivation to obesity, depression, swings in emotions, and lower grades in school.
The foundation recommends some of the following tips to improve sleep for your children:
- Dim the lights before bedtime
- Keep the temperature in the home between 75 and 54 degrees
- Limit use of electronic devices before bed and encourage reading or listening to music
- Make sleep a priority and get ready for bed with enough time to wind down
- Keep consistent bedtimes for your children and even for yourself
- Monitor use of electronics in bedrooms
- Maintain healthy sleep habits for yourself, because healthy sleep habits in parents are linked to healthy sleep habits for your children
If you are concerned about your child’s sleep habits, schedule an evaluation with one of the sleep professionals at FusionSleep. We will help you find solutions that fit your lifestyle.