4 Ways Screen Time Disrupts Your Child’s Sleep

We all know it’s not good and we all know how easy it is to use screen time to pacify our sometimes unruly children.  No one’s perfect, but these 4 facts may give you that little extra amount of willpower to refrain from letting your child watch TV, at least before bed.  It’s easier to say no when you know why you are saying no to your kids.

RESISTANCE

The more TV kids watch, the more likely they are to resist going to bed and to have trouble falling asleep.  Limiting screen time 90 minutes before bed helps children get to sleep faster. Turn off all electronics and dim the lights in your home. Children need a consistent bedtime and so do their devices.

DISRUPTED CIRCADIAN CLOCK

Bright lights from screens emit blue light, which can delay the onset of sleep.  These lights signal the brain to wake rather than sleep.  “The light suppresses a hormone that is supposed to tell the brain it’s time to sleep and that hormone is melatonin,” says Russell Rosenberg, Ph.D., the director of The Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine and Technology.

NIGHTMARES

Nightmares cause abnormal waking during the night, which reduces the amount of sleep your child gets.  Violent, action-packed television shows or movies, especially viewed after dinner, have been scientifically linked to nightmares and night terrors.

CANCELS OUT PRE-SLEEP PLAY

Screen time leaves less time for active creative play.  Before bed, it’s essential for your child to do something calming and soothing, like reading books or imaginary play.  Background noise from a TV disrupts a child’s attention and ability to focus on these activities.  So even if your child isn’t necessarily watching TV, but you are, it’s affecting her sleep.  90 minutes before bedtime should be calm time.

ACTION STEPS

1.)  It shouldn’t need to be said, but keep TVs and computers out of the bedroom.

2.)  Adults should wait until kids are in bed before watching TV.

3.)  Monitor your child’s screen time and the games he is playing.

4.)  Ban TV during the week and plan for special viewing time over the weekend.

5.)  If screen time is becoming a source of tension in your family, unplug the TV, turn off the computer and put away the video games for a while.

When I asked our pediatrician about appropriate amounts screen time his answer was, “Ideally ZERO, realistically an hour or less.”  I keep this in mind when I’m tempted to use TV to keep my kids out of trouble or give in to their relentless requests.

SOURCES
MayoClinic.com
Time.com

 
 

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