Sleep and Television

It’s been well publicized that parents should actively monitor what their children are watching on TV, but the reality is, our kids are going to watch things we wouldn’t normally want them to see. Unless the kids are kept under lock and key and never allowed to visit a friend’s house, the chances are pretty good that they’re going to see something you wouldn’t normally condone. The rules for your house might be different from the rules in another home. Unfortunately, the consequences usually present themselves as sleep disturbances.

Anytime parents discuss the topic of children and sleep, unique stories arise. Every parent has a tale to tell about dealing with children’s nightmares, reluctance to go to bed, and the inevitable “Can I sleep in your bed?” question that comes up. Research on sleep is pretty clear that everyone, adults and children, require a minimum amount of quality rest to be healthy and productive. So what do you do?

Although this may not be as true for older teens, studies show that the affects of TV and sleep in young children tends to be negative. Exciting, action-packed shows just before bed do nothing to help the child unwind after a busy day. As a parent, it’s important to remember that television shows that don’t seem particularly scary to adults could be misinterpreted or seen as quite frightening to a younger child.

How TV affects sleep in children is up for some debate, although studies do show a correlation between violent or scary movies and sleeplessness in children. It’s no wonder that TV watching and sleep problems are so prevalent in today’s society! The question, of course, is what to do about it? Before sending your children out to a friend’s house, talk to the parents and discuss your television viewing preferences with them. If you know your child is afraid of certain things, let the other parents know. The same holds true for certain video games and movies. Nobody knows your child quite like you do, so make sure to speak up.

Finally, it’s important to remember that sleep and television don’t have to be a negative combination. The important thing is to limit the amount of television your child watches, paying particular attention to the content in the shows. And remember…. no two kids are alike. What one child finds entertaining, another might find terrifying.

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