Wednesday, March 5th, 2014
Nearly three out of four American kids sleep with an electronic device like a smartphone, laptop computer, or video game in their room, a habit that is likely to impact the amount and quality of sleep they get, according to a new poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation. More from The Huffington Post:
The survey found that children in every age group were skimping on sleep. More than 1,100 parents of children between the ages of 6 and 17 were asked to estimate the time their kids spent sleeping on the average school night. Across the board, kids slept fewer hours than are recommended by the NSF.
Almost three quarters — 72 percent — of these children also sleep with at least one electronic device in their bedrooms. “To ensure a better night’s sleep for their children, parents may want to limit their children using technology in their bedroom near or during bedtime,” poll task force member Orfeu Buxton, Ph.D. said in a statement. Teens who slept with devices on averaged about half an hour less sleep on school nights compared to teens who slept without devices. Experts typically recommend powering down all electronic devices at least an hour before bed, since they both stimulate the brain and suppress the release of the sleep-promotion hormone melatonin.
The good news is that parents do value their children’s sleep, according to the survey. More than 90 percent said sleep is very or extremely important for their kids to perform their best at school, to be their healthiest and happiest. But they could do more to help their children catch those zzzs.
“A good first step in setting and enforcing sleep-related rules is to establish bedtimes,” poll task force member Jim Spilsbury, Ph.D., MPH, said in a statement. Beside limiting devices in the bedroom, parents can also enforce cut-off times for sleep-disrupting caffeinated drinks or TV shows, for example.
Use our helpful internet contract to set rules for kids using digital devices.
Image: Child in bed, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, July 9th, 2013
Children who go to bed at the same time every night–even if that time is a little later than parents think they need–may get a boost in school performance and brain development, according to a new study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. More from CNN:
“If the child prefers to go to sleep a little bit later, but it’s done regularly, that’s still OK for them, according to the evidence,” said Amanda Sacker, professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London.
Researchers looked at information about bedtimes and standardized test scores for more than 11,000 children who were part of the UK Millennium Cohort Study, a nationally representative study of children in the United Kingdom.
The Millennium Cohort Study followed children when they were aged 3, 5 and 7, and included regular surveys and home visits. Researchers asked parents about family routines such as bedtimes.
Children also took standardized tests in math, reading and spatial abilities when they were 7 years old.
Researchers controlled for socioeconomic status in addition to other factors such as discipline strategies, reading to children and breakfast routines.
The study found that, in general, consistent bedtimes were linked to better performance across all subject areas. This was especially true for 7-year-old girls, regardless of socioeconomic background – they tended to do worse on all three intellect measurements if they had irregular bedtimes. Boys in this age group did not show the effect.
In both girls and boys, non-regular bedtimes at age 3 were linked with lower test scores, but not at age 5.
Bedtimes that had never been consistent for girls at ages 3, 5, and 7 were associated with lower scores than regular bedtimes. For any two of these ages, boys also tended to do worse on the tests if they didn’t go to sleep at a routine time.
These results “showed that it wasn’t going to bed late that was affecting child’s development, it was the irregular bedtimes that were linked to poorer developmental scores,” Sacker said.
Image: Boy at bedtime with clock, via Shutterstock
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