Young Child Watching Television 29159

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found that watching television before bedtime, or watching television with violent images, can lead to sleep problems including difficulty falling or staying asleep, or nightmares.

Children who have a television in their bedrooms are more likely to develop sleep problems, the study found, and the longer children watched television in the evening, the more pronounced the sleep problems were.

Age-appropriate programming viewed during the day did not appear to affect sleep, the researchers found.  The problems arose when young children, between 3 and 5 years of age, watched programs that contained images that were violent, scary, or upsetting.

"For a 7- to 10-year-old they are really at a point where cognitively they can grasp that that's not real violence and they can see the humor in it – it's not frightening for them. But 3- to 5-year-olds just aren't developmentally there yet," study author Michelle Garrison, Ph.D., with the Seattle Children's Research Institute, told CNN's medical blog.

Garrison recommends that the television be turned off at least one hour before children go to bed.

Television viewing among preschoolers was also recently found to be linked to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.