A comprehensive review shows that children who use or just keep an electronic device in their bedroom before bedtime may become sleep deprived. Researchers found that the lights and sound of mobile devices paired with a stimulating content may disrupt the young ones’ circadian rhythms and other bodily processes.
“Sleep is vital for children,”
noted Dr. Sujay Kansagra, a sleep hygiene expert from the Duke University Medical Center.
Dr. Kansagra explained sleep is crucial in childhood because it aids brain development, attention, memory, heart health, hormone production. Kansagra said getting enough sleep is critical in the first three years of life when the brain development peaks. So, sleep loss can have a long-term impact on a child’s development. Dr. Kansagrawas not involved in the research.
Experts recommend parents to stick to a sleep routine and tuck their kids in at fixed bedtimes. But it is important to remove electronic devices from a child’s bedroom first as they could interfere with sleep routine.
The study’s lead author Dr. Ben Carter found a link between sleep deprivation and electronic device use before bedtime. The link was consistent “across a wide range of countries and settings.”
The team also found that even children who don’t use the devices have problems with falling asleep and getting a quality shut-eye. For the analysis, the team sifted through hundreds of studies dating back to 2011.
The review focused on 20 research appears which involved more than 125,00 children with the mean age of 14. The analysis revealed that the use of media devices before bedtime is “strong[ly] and consistent[ly]” associated with poor sleep, sleep loss, and daytime sleepiness.
To their surprise, researchers found that even kids who kept electronic devices in bedrooms but did not use them before bedtime had troubles with getting enough sleep. The team thinks that the light and content may be too stimulating and prevents the body from falling asleep quickly. So, parents should ensure kids don’t look at a bright screen in the hour or two before going to sleep
Study authors, on the other hand, acknowledged that their work may have some limitations. For instance, the studies they based their research on heavily relied on self-reports coming from both parents and children.
Past Studies on Bedtime Media Use
Nevertheless, the findings are consistent with countless studies and surveys assessing the quality of sleep in children. The National Sleep Foundation found in 2013 that 72 percent of kids and nearly 90 percent of adolescents have at least one electronic device in their bedroom. The NSF also found that most of these kids and teens used the devices close to bedtime.
The technology delays children’s bedtimes and disturbs their bed routines as users will go to sleep after they have finished watching a film or played one more game. A plethora of studies have revealed the light emitted by these devices may disturb circadian rhythms and interfere with processes that regulate hormone release and body temperature.
If hormone release is disturbed it can have a long-lasting impact on sleep quality. Melatonin is a hormone that makes you feel sleepy before bedtime, but artificial lights from the said devices can lower the levels of melatonin thus making it harder to fall asleep.
The findigns appeared Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
Image Source: Flickr