Small Screens in Children’s Bedrooms Can Harm Sleep

Research has shown children who have a television (http://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/Pages/The-Benefits-of-Limiting-TV.aspx) in their bedrooms have later bedtimes (http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/gradeschool/Pages/Bedtime-Routines-for-School-Aged-Children.aspx) and shorter sleep duration (http://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/emotional-wellness/Pages/Sleep-and-Mental-Health.aspx).

A new study shows similar sleep problems in children who have a “small screen,” such as a smartphone (http://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/Pages/Tablets-and-Smartphones-Not-for-Babies.aspx) in their room. The study, “Sleep Duration, Restfulness, and Screens in the Sleep Environment,” (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2015/01/01/peds.2014-2306) published in the February 2015 Pediatrics (published online Jan. 5), surveyed 2,048 fourth- and seventh-graders about bedtimes, wake times, feelings of sleepiness and the presence of televisions, smartphones and other small screens in their bedrooms.

Children who slept near a small screen and children with a television in their bedroom had shorter weekday sleep durations. Children who slept near a small screen were more likely to report perceived insufficient sleep. TV or DVD viewing and video or computer gameplaying (http://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/Pages/Video-Games-Set-Your-Own-Ratings-System.aspx) were also associated with shorter weekday sleep duration and sleepiness. Children with screens in their sleep environment and more screen time (http://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/Pages/Where-We-Stand-TV-Viewing-Time.aspx) also had later bedtimes.

Study authors conclude the findings caution against children’s unfettered access to screen-based media in their bedrooms.