Ask Dr. Swanson: Small screens interfere with kids' sleep

A new study says phones and tablets may be interfering with your child's sleep. Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson explains.

Getting a good night's sleep affects so much more than our mood during the day. Poor sleep (even in children) can over time lead to obesity, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

A new study from the AAP looks deeper in to the effects of small screens (smart phones, tablets) and TVs in the bedroom on quality of sleep.

Why is sleep so important?

* Affects ability to concentrate. Weekend "catch-up" sleep isn't the same as a good night's rest.

* Lack of sleep can lead to increased aggression or behavioral problems. A Pediatrics study says 7 year olds with non-regular bedtimes had more behavioral difficulties.

* Poor sleep can lead to long-term health problems, such as obesity. On study found kids 3-12 years of age who slept less had higher BMI's five years later.

What the study found

* 2048 4th and 7th graders participated in the study. Kids self-reported the amounts of sleep they got.

* Kids get less sleep when technology is in the room

- 20.6 fewer minutes of sleep (per weekday) when sleeping near small screen

- 18 fewer minutes of sleep when sleeping in a room with TV

* Kids go to bed later when technology is present

- 37 minutes later (on average) when small screen is present

- 31 minutes later when television is present

What parents need to know

* Make sleep a priority (for everyone in the family!)

- Agree on a reasonable bedtime for your child or teen

- Create a routine for younger kids

- Stick to it!

* Get tired in the right ways

- Encourage physical activity during the day

- No caffeine after 12 pm

- No screens in the bedroom! (cut out 2 hours before bedtime)

* If sleep problems persist, talk to your pediatrician


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