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Surprising Science

Sleeping Near a Smartphone Can Disrupt a Child’s Rest

If parents want their kids to feel well-rested, it may be best to limit their screen time. A recent study found that kids report feeling as if they haven’t had enough sleep after looking at small screen displays and TVs before bed.

The research is in: looking at a bright screen before bed disrupts sleep. Nancy Shute from NPR highlights a recent study that shows further proof that parents should be limiting time their child spends in front of a bright screen.

The study, published in the journal Pediatric, took 2,048 fourth- and seventh-graders in order to examine the effects TV and small screen displays (i.e. smartphones and iPods) had on their sleep patterns. The children were asked how long they slept and if they felt they needed more sleep. In addition, they were questioned as to how frequently they slept with an iPod, smartphone, or cellphone next to them.

Over half of the children said they slept with one of the devices next to them. Previous studies have shown that notifications from these devices as well as the brightness from their LCD displays can keep people up longer.

Those children also reported getting 20.6 minutes less sleep on weekdays, compared to the other kids that didn’t sleep with a device next to them. Likewise, kids with a TV in their bedroom reported 18 fewer minutes of sleep on weekdays. But it was only the children who slept with their small-screen devices that were more likely to report feeling they’d gotten insufficient sleep. Though, TV and small-screen display users both went to bed 31 and 37 minutes later on school nights.

What’s more kids who played video games or watched DVDs during the daylight hour also reported feeling less rested. But researchers report it was just a small footprint compared to the TV and small-screen nighttime users. Still, a curious side note.

The study concludes with a warning, urging caution against unmonitored screen time before bed. However, the researchers didn’t indicate what aspect of small-screen displays kept kids awake and feeling they’d gotten insufficient sleep—notifications from alerts and messages, brightness of the display, or a combination of the two. Whatever the reason, if parents want their kids to feel well-rested, it may be best to limit screen time.

Read more at NPR

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


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