Your child’s night rest is crucial for her Physical and Psychical development. If your little zone doesn’t get enough sleep, she will become overtired, moody, cranky, and it won’t be the worst thing which you can expect. Therefore it is crucial to ensure adequate conditions to provide the child with proper sleep hours during the night.
Nowadays, more and more children are addicted to technology, and they use it as much as they can include the period before bedtime. The most sleep experts claim that screens affect sleep and that the use of computers, tablets, cell phones, and TVs leads to the poor quality of rest and that overusing these devices decreases the total amount of sleep in children including very young ones.
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How Do Screens Affect Sleeping?
According to estimates, up to 90% of people in the U.S. use various technological devices during the hours directly before sleep. It can be pretty problematic especially when this applies to children and adolescents. They use electronic media to help themselves relax at night, but the result is entirely the opposite. Using these devices make sleeping much harder because they negatively stimulate your child both psychologically and physiologically.
If you wonder how using the screens before bed affects your child’s sleep, you should read the guidelines of the Department of Health. According to their recommendations, you shouldn’t let your 2 to 5-year-old child to watch TV or use electronic media including computer, electronic games, or DVD more than one hour per day. Also, experts believe that children under two years shouldn’t use computers or watch TV at all because there is a lot of evidence that using these devices leads to the delaying of kid’s language development.
Let me give you three primary and most common ways how using screen before bedtime negatively affects kids:
Wrong timing – The excessive use of the electronic media causes delaying of kid’s bedtime. Very often your child is unable to give up using the electronic devices because she is too excited about what she watches on TV or because of ‘winning the higher level’ in the game on the Net. In that way, your kid will get less available time for necessary sleep.
Blue light emission – Unfortunately, the connection between computer screens and sleep is well-known and already proven. Blue light from screens provokes the suppression of releasing the sleep-inducing hormone Melatonin which disrupts the regulation of the normal child’s sleep-wake cycle and causes difficulties in her sleeping.
Exciting content – All electronic media including the social network engage a child’s brain with provocative and stimulating content. All these information right before your child should go to bed will cause increasing the secretion of Adrenaline and trigger hormonal and emotional response which directly reduces her ability to fall asleep peacefully.
How Blue Light From Screens Affecting Sleep?
If your kid uses Smartphone, laptop, tablet, or watches TV before bed, she delays her circadian rhythm. Well, this ‘internal body’s clock’ is not 100% precise and lasts a bit longer or a bit shorter than 24 hours. That means that your child’s b rain needs external signals such as daylight and darkness in order to adjust.
Results of some new studies have proven that blue light from electronic gadgets confuses the child’s brain and it doesn’t realize that the body needs to sleep. When circadian rhythm is disturbed, the child’s body is ‘forced’ to stay awake even though your little one feels tired and needs to go to sleep.
The problem is that the screens of electronic devices emit the short-wavelength artificial blue light. It reduces the total amount of necessary REM sleep, delays its onset, and directly affects a child’s awakening the next morning. Consequently, your kid will sleep less and feel ‘groggy’ in the morning. If these effects last too long, your child will suffer a significant deficiency in sleep.
Keep in mind that blue light is not entirely bad. Actually, it is beneficial to a significant degree during the day, and it improves the mood and reduces fatigue. Also, many therapists use blue light during the treatment of depression. You just need to avoid it in the evening because it inhibits melatonin production which causes immeasurable consequences on the child’s body and her health including mental disorders, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and even cancer.
Why Your Child Harder Fall Asleep if She Watches TV before Bed?
Have you ever heard that kids, who spend half an hour or more playing video games or watching TV before bedtime, get up to an hour less sleep each week? Well, it doesn’t sound like much, but this lack of adequate sleep leads to chronic sleep deprivation during the time. Plus, if your child watches TV right before going to bed, she will need more time to fall asleep.
The bad news is that chronic sleep deprivation causes severe behavioral problems in school-aged children, preschoolers, and toddlers equally. I will give you a list of the most common problems linked with lack of sleep:
- Emotional, mental, and physical issues in children of all ages.
- Depression in young children.
- Poor sleep is directly connected to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
- It is the substantial risk factor for overweight and obesity in very young children.
Lack of sleep can lead to Restless Leg Syndrome (a disorder of the part of the nervous system connected to moving the legs) or sleep apnea (interrupting the breathing during sleep which causes the issue when child’s brain can’t get enough oxygen). To make things worse, there are numerous proofs that these sleep disorders are directly connected to ADHD diagnose.
Recommended Hours for the TV during the Day
Among other things, your kid shouldn’t use her phone or tablet during meal-time and in the bedroom. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents need to set the boundaries for their children due to using electronic devices during the day. Their experts also suggest that:
- You should avoid letting your children younger than 18 months to use screen media.
- You can allow your 18 to 24 month-age-child to use digital media for about an hour a day, but you should encourage your little one to watch only high-quality programs.
- Limit screen use for your child ages two to five years to one hour per day and pick out only high-quality programs for her.
- Your six-year-old kid should have boundaries when it comes to the types of media and the time spent in front of the TV. Try to provide a media-free location at your home and media-free time during a day which is reserved for the family.
How to Ensure Enough Quality Sleep for Your Kid
To ensure a peaceful and healthy night sleep for your child, you need to follow some basic rules:
Bedtime alarm – Install a ‘bedtime’ alarm on your child’s media devices to ring about two hours before she needs to go to sleep. Ringing will warn her that she should turn off the device and start preparing for the night’s rest.
Establish the bedtime routine – Instead of your child uses the computer or watches TV before bedtime, you need to establish a mandatory bedtime routine for her. That routine should include taking a bath, brushing teeth, reading a story, and all others calming things which will help your child to go to sleep comfortably and to get enough quality sleep.
No media devices in a child’s bedroom – There is no need to let your child have a computer or TV in her bedroom. It is one of the rules your kid (especially a teen) won’t like, but she will get used to it after a while. Soon after both of you will recognize all the benefits of such a decision.
Forbid drinks and food during the ‘screen time’ – Your teen can spend many hours in front of her computer or TV, and she won’t notice the amount of food and drinks (usually carbonated juices full of sugar and unhealthy snacks) which she has put into her body. You should know that some studies confirm that electronic devices encourage drinking sweet drinks and caffeine as well as over-eating. Additionally, these stimulants affect the child’s body and lead to the hormones imbalance and consequent obesity.
Include exercise during the day – Every outdoor activity will be better than sitting in the room in front of the LED screen. Replace it with bright daily light which is excellent for your child’s sleep and make a balance between her real and ‘virtual’ life.
Reading books – Encourage your child to read printed books before sleeping. I know that it is probably too old-fashioned for her, but it is an excellent choice which will provide her the quiet hours before bedtime and allow her to fall asleep quickly.
F.lux program – Sometimes it is impossible to convince your stubborn teen that she needs to give up on her computer or Smartphone in the evening. Therefore, you should consider installing the F.lux program on your child’s computer which will automatically modify the brightness and color of her screen based on the time-zone. During the night, this program will effectively block blue light and give the computer screen a faint orange color. There are some indications that this program can help your child fall asleep easier.
No one disputes that there are many advantages of technology and electronic devices. The trend of prolonging the period your child spends in front of the computer screen or the TV is what you need to worry about. Pay attention to your child especially a teen because she is probably prone to forget about the time while sits in front of the monitor. Plus, don’t forget about problems with technology addiction which can appear.
If you find a way to make a balance in child’s use of electronic devices, why shouldn’t you let her use all the benefits these gadgets offer?