Cell phones and screens are keeping your kid awake

Highlights of the story

Devices in the bedroom are linked to children’s loss of sleep time and quality, new study says

Even children and teenagers who don’t stay up late online lose sleep


Today, teachers are often faced with classrooms filled with yawning students who stay up late taking selfies or playing online games.

For children and adolescents, nighttime use of mobile phones, tablets and computers is linked to a loss of sleep duration and sleep quality, new research finds. Even kids who don’t use phones or other technologies littering their bedrooms at night don’t close their eyes and are prone to daytime sleepiness, analysis published today in the journal JAMA Pediatrics shows.

Dr Ben Carter, lead author and senior lecturer in biostatistics at King’s College London, said: “The analysis revealed ‘a consistent pattern of effects across countries and contexts’.

Carter and his colleagues reviewed the medical literature to identify hundreds of applicable studies conducted between January 1, 2011 and June 15, 2015. They selected 20 research reports. involving a total of 125,198 children, equally divided by sex, with a mean age of 14 and a half years. After extracting the appropriate data, Carter and his co-authors performed their own meta-analysis.

Few parents would be surprised by the results: The team found a “strong and consistent association” between bedtime media device use and inadequate sleep, sleep quality poor sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Surprisingly, however, Carter and his team found that kids who didn’t use devices in their bedrooms still had disrupted sleep and were likely to suffer the same problems. The light and sound emitted by technology, as well as the content itself, can be too stimulating.

Although Carter admits that one weakness of the analysis is “the way the data is collected in primary studies: self-reported by parents and children,” many of us will likely recognize the habit. of his family is reflected in the statistics.

A large-scale poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (PDF) in the United States reported in 2013 that 72% of children and 89% of adolescents had at least one device in their sleep environment. they. The same report also shows that most of this technology is used near bedtime.

According to Carter and his co-authors, this ubiquitous technology negatively affects children’s sleep by delaying their bedtime, when they finish watching a movie or playing an extra game. .

The light emitted by these devices can also affect circadian rhythms, the biological processes that time internal clocks, including body temperature and hormone release, the researchers explain. the researchers explained. A specific hormone, melatonin, causes feelings of fatigue and contributes to the timing of our sleep-wake cycles. Electronic lights can delay the release of melatonin, disrupting this cycle and making it harder to fall asleep.

Carter and his co-authors also suggest that online content can be psychologically stimulating and keep kids and teens awake when they turn off their devices and try to fall asleep.

Dr Sujay Kansagra, director of the pediatric neuropsychiatric sleep medicine program at Duke University Medical Center, who was not involved in the new analysis, said: “Sleep is very important for children. “We know that sleep plays an important role in brain development, memory, self-regulation, attention, immune function, heart health and more.”

Kansagra, author of the book “My Child Waken Sleep,” notes that the period of greatest brain development is during the first three years of our lives, which corresponds to the time when we need and sleep the most. “It’s hard to believe this is a coincidence.”

It’s possible parents underestimated kids’ use of devices at night, Kansagra said, but more likely, the technology simply interferes with sleep hygiene. “For example, kids who are allowed to leave devices in their room can avoid a good night’s sleep that we know is very helpful for sleep,” he said.

Dr. Neil Kline, representative of the American Sleep Association, agrees that sleep plays an important role in a child’s healthy development, although “we don’t know all the science behind it. There are even some studies that demonstrate an association between ADHD and certain sleep disorders.”

In many respects, the new study’s findings are not surprising. “Sleep hygiene is being significantly impacted by technology, especially during the teen years,” says Kline, who makes his point based not just on research but also on “experience,” says Kline. personal experiences and anecdotes of many other sleep experts”.

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  • Sleep hygiene – tips to help facilitate good, continuous, and adequate sleep – includes having a quiet room. And that means getting rid of items that interfere with sleep, including electronics, TVs and even pets if they interfere with sleep, says Kline.

    Another important tip comes from the National Sleep Foundation, which recommends at least 30 minutes of “device-free transition time” before bed. Power off for better sleep.

    Other recommendations for good sleep hygiene include not exercising (physically or mentally) too close to bedtime; establish a regular sleep schedule; limit exposure to light before sleeping; avoiding stimulants such as alcohol, caffeine and nicotine in the hours before bedtime; and create a dark, comfortable and peaceful sleeping environment.

    https://www.cnn.com/2016/10/31/health/kids-sleep-screens-tech/index.html Cell phones and screens are keeping your kid awake

    Russell Falcon

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