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A Smartphone’s Impact on a Child’s Sleep

A Smartphone’s Impact on a Child’s Sleep

There is plenty of evidence that children who have televisions in their rooms get less sleep. Recently, there was a study conducted to look at whether having a small screen, like an iPod or smartphone in the room also affects rest.

The study, published last month in Pediatrics, looked at 2,048 racially diverse fourth-graders and seventh-graders who were participating in a study on childhood obesity in Massachusetts. Lack of sleep is considered a risk factor for obesity, so the children were asked how long they slept and if they felt they needed more sleep. They were also asked how often they slept with an iPod, smartphone or cellphone in their bed or next to their bed. More than half of the children, 57 percent, said they slept near a small screen. Those children reported getting 20.6 fewer minutes of sleep on weekdays, compared to children who didn’t have the devices in the bedroom. Those children were also more likely to say they felt like they hadn’t gotten enough sleep.

The study also looked at TVs in the bedroom and found that children who slept in a room with a TV reported 18 fewer minutes of sleep that those without a TV, on par with other studies. The TVs were even more common than the small screens; three-quarters if the children said they had a TV in their bedroom. However, they were less likely to feel like they had missed out on sleep than the kids with small screens.

The researchers say that with both the TVs and the small screens, children went to sleep even later. The small-screen sleepers went to sleep 37 minutes later than their screenless peers and TV watchers went to sleep 31 minutes later. All the children were getting up at the same time because they had to go to school. Furthermore, children who said they played video games or watched DVDs during the day also said they felt less rested, but the negative impact was much smaller than for small screens or TVs in the bedroom.

This study wasn’t designed in a way that could determine what was causing the sleep loss and tiredness–whether the kids were actually using the devices thus exposing them to light and stimulating content or whether getting calls and alerts throughout the night was interrupting sleep. However, it’s likely a combination of both.


This article is from NPR. Read the full article here.

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