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How Screentime Affects Sleep in Kids

How screentime affects sleep in kids

One of the greatest struggles of parenting for many is bedtime. Making sure your child gets to bed at a healthy time, and gets a proper amount of sleep, is first and foremost for many parents. In this technological age, many parents may be wondering how screentime affects sleep in children.

It is not difficult to find hundreds, if not thousands, of stories about parents who were having major struggles with getting their children to bed on time, but experience a complete turnaround as soon as screentime was reduced or eliminated throughout the day, particularly close to bedtime.

So, what do the experts have to say about how screentime affects sleep in kids? Let’s dive in.

Screens are replacing physical activity

The most obvious issue with screen usage in children is what they replace.

Time in front of the TV or tablet, is time that could be spent engaging in physical activity.

Physical activity doesn’t have to mean exercise or sports. Most activities children engage in involve a certain amount of gross motor activity.

So, if you’re considering replacing screentime with physical activity in order to help your child sleep better at night, there may be no need to plan sports or exercise routines.

Just let them play and you are likely to find that the activities they choose to engage in are working their muscle groups considerable more than when in front of a screen.

Screens and sleep: How the brain reacts to screens

Not only do screens replace physical activity, they intrude on time a child should be calming down and preparing for sleep. This reduces the overall time children sleep.

How screentime affects sleep in kids doesn’t stop here, though.

A calm, low stimulus atmosphere, prior to going to bed is part of good sleep hygiene – for everyone; adults and children.

TV and tablet time causes the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline is a hormone that causes increased alertness and other changes is our bodies, like an increased heart rate.

Adrenaline is even considered a stress hormone. It is counterproductive to encourage the release of adrenaline within an hour or so of bedtime. Your child’s body needs time to relax in preperation for sleep.

Another way screentime affects a child’s sleep is the light screens emit.

The bright lights emitted by TV and tablets increase our children’s alertness, making it difficult for them to fall asleep.

These lights can also affect how long our children stay asleep, as well as the quality of their sleep by interfering with the release of melatonin.

Melatonin is a natural hormone; produced by our bodies. It is important for helping our bodies maintain a predictable sleep-wake cycle. This is also called “circadian rhythm”.

So, you now know how screentime affects sleep in kids and why it is so important to limit screens during the day and and hour or so before bed.

If your child has been having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, turn off the tube. We’d love to get some success stories in the comments section!

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Wednesday 23rd of December 2020

Wow these are great details to know about screen time. My kiddo has a speech delay so we already limit screen time to help with that, but I learned even more from your post!

Anja Petterson

Wednesday 23rd of December 2020

Yes! Good article! We try and keep a healthy routine of no screens for a good few hours before bedtime (kinda hard for us parents, because sometimes we just want to chill to a movie!). But good sleep is vital!

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