The Effect Television Has on Children’s Sleep

Watching television right before bed can cause sleep problems in young children. A recent study by researchers at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute found that in families where watching television was part of the child’s bedtime routine, children consistently had trouble falling asleep, experienced nightmares, were slow to wake up the next morning and were tired and cranky the next day.

The research study tracked the TV viewing habits of 600 families and resulted in some interesting revelations:

  • The closer to bedtime children watched television, the greater its impact on sleep. A direct relationship was found between bedtime TV watching and children’s sleep problems.
  • Watching TV shows with violent content, whether during the day or close to bedtime, increased sleep problems. Interestingly, it didn’t matter whether the violence was animated or live-action. Nor did it matter whether children watched with or without their parents.
  • Watching television of any kind after 7 p.m., even non-violent programs, increased sleep problems among young children ages 3 to 5.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 children (18%) who watched TV near bedtime exhibited sleep problems at least 5 nights a week and frequently every night.
  • Children who had televisions in their bedrooms watched more TV. They also experienced the highest incidence of sleep problems and were most likely to be tired the next day.

Next time: Healthy bedtime routine tips

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