Smartphones: The New Reason Why Kids Sleep Less

Once upon a time, you probably worried that putting a TV in your child's room might distract him from going to sleep. These days, smartphones -- with its portable, easy access -- are the new sleep distractions, reports HealthDay.

A new study, which will be published in the February issue of Pediatrics, focused on data about the sleep patterns and smartphone use of more than 2,000 kids in elementary and middle school, specifically the fourth and seventh grades. The results revealed that kids who had smartphones and tablets in the bedroom slept less at night and fell asleep more often during the day.

"We found that both sleeping near a small screen and sleeping in a room with a TV set were related to shorter weekday sleep duration. Children who slept near a small screen, compared to those who did not, were also more likely to feel like they did not get enough sleep," says Jennifer Falbe, the study's lead author.

Researchers discovered that kids with electronic devices (but not necessarily TVs) in the bedroom have worse sleep patterns than kids with only TVs in their rooms. Kids with smartphones and tablets went to sleep 37 minutes later than their usual bedtime and slept 21 minutes less per day, versus kids with only TVs in their bedroom went to bed 31 minutes later and slept 18 minutes less per day.

On average, kids should get around 10 hours of sleep at night and a routine, uninterrupted bedtime schedule can ensure good eating habits, healthy brain developments, and positive academic achievements. In an increasingly technical world full of electronic devices, it would be difficult to ban gadgets from the home.

Instead, try following the American Academy of Pediatrics's media guidelines by having "screen-free" zones at home where no electronic devices (smartphones, tablets, computers, or TVs) are allowed in the bedrooms. And parents should keep establishing rules to curtail the use of electronics to a few hours a day and prevent their presence at the dinner table.

Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com who covers baby-related content. She loves collecting children's picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea

Learning outside of the classroom can be a ton of fun, and technology has given parents a new set of options. Choose the best, age-appropriate electronic toys for your child to keep her entertained and engaged.

Image: Sleeping boy holding a tablet via Shutterstock

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