Digital screens can impact your children’s sleep
It’s bedtime. Your child is tucked up in bed. All is going well but they are not able to sleep. So you find them sneaking out of bed and insisting that even though it’s late and they’ve had a big day, they are simply not tired. What’s wrong you think? Why is this happening? Well there is an often-overlooked issue that could be the cause. Digital screens before bedtime!
Giving into those ‘just five more minutes Mummy!’ or ‘just one more level Dad!’ may actually be contributing to a disrupted sleep. Many parents encourage the use of digital devices however the closer to bedtime your child uses the device, the more impact it can have on their sleeping patterns.
We’d hate to wrongly inform you, so we did a little bit of research to check we know what we’re talking about…
There are studies to prove it! A study was carried out by some top Universities to uncover the link between portable screen-based media device access and use and sleep outcomes. The study compared sleep patterns of those who used digital media devices before bed and those who didn’t. They found that children who used digital media devices before bed;
- were more than twice as likely to not get an adequate amount of sleep
- nearly half as likely to have poor-quality sleep
- as much as three times more likely to have excessive daytime sleepiness
If your child struggles with sleep and you know that they watch TV, play on a console, a tablet or any other screen-based entertainment close to bedtime, it’s time to turn it off. In the ‘Digital Age’ having a young tech, a wizard is becoming the norm. However excessive use of technology can not only affect your child’s ability to sleep but in some cases can also affect their development.
Keeping gadgets in the bedroom may be causing more interruption than you realise, not only for your child, but also for you! Research has shown that the light from television screens or mobile phone (even when it is on silent) can interfere with the production of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin is an important piece of the sleep cycle. The process is quite fascinating, Melatonin triggers chemical receptors in our brains to encourage us to sleep and when interrupted it can result in our sleep patterns being disrupted.
Want to banish the blue lights at bedtime? Soak&Sleep recommends:
- Where possible keep mobile devices and screens out of the bedroom at night, turning them off, or keeping them as far away from your child’s bedroom as possible
- Exercise, in any form, would be a great replacement for screen time. We know it's not the warmest outside, but a winter walk or a trip to the pond to feed the ducks can be a great way to keep them away from the screens. If braving the cold isn’t for you, build a fort out of pillows or an assault course out of sofas cushions. Be inventive, be fun. The more tired your kids are, the easier they will get to sleep.
- Speaking of being inventive, why not spend quality family time getting messy with art. Get a roll of paper, cover the dining table, get the pens and crayons out and go wild. A great way to have fun, bond and stay away from the screens.
- Try to limit the usage of digital devices – our very own Charlie Hunt finds limiting his children’s Ipad time to 1 Hour a day the best tip. He aims to make the limit fun by letting them choose how they split the time, setting timers and having races.
- Turn off the TV, at least two hours before bedtime. If turning off the electronics means terrible tantrums, why not provide a fun alternative to distract or create a reward system!
- Read books! A great way to end the day is to get your little ones to choose their favorite book to read, or be read, before bedtime. This can help relax your children, creating a calm, soothing environment before they sleep.