Children who watch TV before bed more likely to have trouble sleeping

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Young children who watch TV in the evening are more likely to experience sleep problems, a new study has found.

A team from Seattle Children’s Research Institute in America observed more than 600 three- to five-year-olds. They found that 18 per cent of families whose children watched TV, played video games or used computers after 7pm, or watched violent content during the day, reported that their child experienced at least one sleep problem.

Researchers also found that children’s sleep problems increased for each additional hour of media use, with children who had a television in their bedroom (10 per cent) more likely to have trouble falling asleep, to experience nightmares, to wake during the night, and to be less alert in the morning.

The most common problems reported by parents were children’s difficulty in getting to sleep and for those who had bedroom TVs, daytime tiredness.

On average, children who took part in the study consumed 72.9 minutes of media screen time daily and just over 14 minutes after 7pm.

The authors claim that many families are using television as part of a child’s bedtime routine, which may replace more soothing bedtime rituals.

Dr Garrison, who led the study said, ‘Early childhood sleep disruption has been associated with obesity, behaviour problems and poor school performance. We advise parents to choose non-violent media content, and to avoid media screen time entirely during the hour before bed. Removing televisions and other media devices from a child’s bedroom can be an important first step.’

The study Media Use and Child Sleep: The Impact of Content, Timing, and Environment is published in the online journal Paediatrics.


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