Most children and teenagers have problems with their sleep due to the excessive media use before bedtime. Recent research suggests that teens using their computers, tablets, and cell phones at night lose not just sleep but also sleep quality.
According to Dr. Ben Carter, lead researcher from the King’s College London, daylight sleepiness is a widely-spread issue in many countries. He and his colleagues reviewed hundreds of studies developed between 2011 and 2015 out of which they selected 20 research papers involving 125,198 children, with a median age of 14 years.
After collecting the data they considered useful, researchers conducted their own study. As it turned out, bedtime media use was associated with poorer sleep quality, lower sleeping time and daytime sleepiness.
The team also found that children and teenagers who didn’t use those devices in bedrooms were still affected by media use to the same extent, meaning that content, sounds, and light were a bad combination before bedtime.
Another study, conducted by the NSF in 2013, has found that around 72 percent of all kids and 89 percent of teens across the United States have minimum one electronic device in bedrooms and most of them are used before bedtime.
Carter stresses that this technology is present everywhere and it has a negative impact on children and teenagers’ sleep because it shortens their sleeping time through movies, TV shows, and games just to name a few.
It is worth mentioning that the light emitted by these devices affects the circadian rhythm, which is vital to all biological processes such as hormone release and body temperature. The most important hormone related to rest is melatonin because it induces tiredness.
Experts believe that electronic lights delay melatonin release, so the healthy sleeping cycle is disrupted and that is why children and teenagers have difficulties falling asleep.
According to Dr. Sujay Kansagra from the Duke University Medical Center, sleep has a vital role in cardiovascular health, immune function, attention, self-regulation, memory, and brain development.
Sleep specialists strongly recommend parents to educate and inform their children about these risks and to help kids improve their life quality by adopting a healthier sleep behavior, while reducing media use before bedtime.
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