Here's how your kids can sleep tight: Take that TV remote away

  • IANS, New York
  • Updated: Jan 28, 2015 13:29 IST

It's time you changed one bad habit of your children. Limit screen time and caffeine for them at bedtime if you want them to get quality sleep and perform better in life, says a study.

"Good quality and sufficient sleep are vital for children. Just like a healthy diet and exercise, sleep is critical for children to stay healthy, grow, learn, do well in school, and function at their best," said Orfeu Buxton, associate professor at Pennsylvania State University.

Reducing the encroachment of technology and media into sleep time and supporting well-known sleep hygiene principles should be a focus of public health intervention goals for sleep health, Buxton said.

For the study, the researchers evaluated children aged six to 17 years old through internet-based interviews. A total of 1,103 parents or guardians of an average age of 42 completed surveys.

According to researchers, although the majority of parents endorsed the importance of sleep, 90% of children did not sleep the full amount of time recommended for their age group. For children who had electronic devices on in the bedroom after bedtime, sleep deficiency was more likely.

"A consistent bedtime routine improves sleep, whereas television use in the bedroom is generally associated with curtailed sleep," the authors said.

Some of the primary consequences of poor sleep among children are behavioural problems, impaired learning and school performance, sports injuries, problems with mood and emotional regulation and a worsening of health-related issues including obesity.

Evidence also indicates that in adolescence, lack of sleep may be related to high-risk behaviours such as substance abuse, suicidal behaviour and drowsy driving.

Parents must follow at least nine hours of sleep for kids ages six through 11 years and at least eight hours for children aged 12 to 17 years.

The team recently showed that reading on an iPad before bedtime, compared to reading a print book, can impair sleep, delay circadian timing and degrade alertness the following morning.

The results were published in the journal Sleep Health.

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