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How Screen Time Affects Sleep Quality

How Screen Time Affects Sleep Quality

In this day and age, it’s hard not to take advantage of the many benefits of technology. When it comes to settling the kids or keeping them busy so that you can relax and enjoy a peaceful moment to yourself, those devices that grab their attention in an instant seem like a blessing. But too much screen time is not without drawbacks, especially as we begin to rely on it more excessively. In fact, sleep specialists are starting to see a noticeable connection between increased screen time – whether it’s the computer, iPad, smartphone, or TV – and poor quality of sleep. To learn more about how screen time affects sleep quality for your children, read on.

Excessive Use of Electronics

Ask any parent these days and they’ll tell you that some form of electronic device is an important part of their parenting arsenal. These devices have become so helpful in calming the kids and keeping them distracted that they’ve become almost too much of a crutch. The use of technology and screen time has become so widespread that studies are showing how this increased exposure to screens is impacting the quality of sleep for both adults and children.

Studies have shown in particular that excessive screen time leads to shortened sleep duration and a delay in the timing of sleep.  With the almost addictive nature of electronic use, it’s cutting into the duration available to get that full amount of rest we all need.

Bright Lights Stimulate Brain & Disrupt Circadian Rhythm

In addition, there are more severe impacts than merely cutting into bedtime. The constant long exposure to bright light emitted from the screen suppresses the release of melatonin, which is largely responsible for maintaining our circadian sleep rhythm.

This in combination with the content being viewed stimulates the brain enough to release adrenaline. Once this hormone is activated, it makes it hard to get to sleep.

If you keep electronic devices in your child’s bedroom, these can also disrupt sleep. It’s not unusual for an iPad screen to turn on with no prompting in the middle of the night, or for a smartphone to buzz with an alert. This interruption can cause your child to wake up and struggle to fall back to sleep.

Limit Screen Time to Improve Sleep

Understandably, screen time before bed has the biggest noticeable impact on the quality of your children’s sleep. Sleep needs to remain as a priority and establishing healthy habits early is essential. This is why Department of Health guidelines recommend creating limits for children under 13 years of age to two hours of screen time per day and children under 5 with less than one hour per day, avoiding usage at least three hours before bedtime. Also keep screens out of the bedroom to prevent unwanted interruptions or distractions throughout the night.

With the widespread use and growing dependence on electronic devices, problems associated with excessive screen time are only bound to get worse. But by creating limitations for your children now, they can hopefully develop better habits that don’t allow technology to take precedence over their wellbeing and quality of sleep.

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