If you’ve read SleepBetter articles before, it shouldn’t be news that reducing the amount of time you spend in front of the TV, a handheld device like a tablet or smartphone, or a gaming system right before bed can help you get a better night’s sleep. A new study, however, confirms that for kids and teens, more screen time equals less sleep.
Researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand looked at how much TV watching and video game playing children and teens from the ages of five to 18 did in the 90 minutes before their bedtime. They also looked at how long it took them to fall asleep. They found that the more time the kids spent in front of screens, the longer it took them to fall asleep.
Although previous research has found that television viewing and other “screen-time” activities are linked with a decline in the length of time children and teens sleep, the new study is believed to be the first to look at the pre-bedtime period by asking youth (or their parents, for the younger children) to account for their time in detail.
The reason screen time right before bed can be such a problem is that, whether you’re gaming, surfing the web, or watching TV, those screens can cause “arousal”, making sleep difficult. The blue light from screens can affect circadian rhythms and adversely affect falling asleep.
The study was published this month in the journal Pediatrics.