Screen Time in the Dark Before Bedtime Puts Your Children at Risk of Poor Sleep

by Iswarya on  January 30, 2019 at 2:43 PM Research News
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Kids and pre-teens who are exposed to screen time in the dark an hour before sleep is at high risk of not getting enough sleep, reports a new study. The findings of the study are published in the journal Environment International.
Screen Time in the Dark Before Bedtime Puts Your Children at Risk of Poor Sleep
Screen Time in the Dark Before Bedtime Puts Your Children at Risk of Poor Sleep

The study by researchers from the University of Lincoln, Imperial College London, Birkbeck, University of London and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Basel, Switzerland is the first to analyze the pre-sleep use of media devices with screens alongside the impact of room lighting conditions on sleep in pre-teens.

Insufficient sleep has also been shown to be associated with impaired immune responses, depression, anxiety and obesity in children and adolescents.

Data was collected from 6,616 adolescents aged between 11 and 12 and more than 70 percent reported using at least one screen based device within one hour of their bedtime. They were asked to self-report a range of factors including their device use in both lit and darkened rooms, their weekday and weekend bedtimes, how difficult they found it to go to sleep and their wake up times.

The results showed that those who used a phone or watched television in a room with a light on were 31 percent more likely to get less sleep than those who didn't use a screen. The likelihood increased to 147 percent if the same activity took place in the dark.

It has been reported that globally, 90 percent of adolescents are not sleeping the recommended nine to 11 hours per night, which has coincided with an increase in the use of screen-based media devices. In the UK alone, it is estimated that 98 percent of 12 to 15-year-olds watch television and over 90 percent use mobile phones at home.

Previous studies have shown that sufficient sleep duration and quality are vital in childhood to maintain physical and mental development. Sleep is also crucial for cognitive processes, and a lack of sufficient sleep has been directly related to poor academic performance.

Lead author, Dr. Michael Mireku, a researcher at the University of Lincoln's School of Psychology said: "While previous research has shown a link between screen use and the quality and length of young people's sleep, ours is the first study to show how room lighting can further influence this.

"Our findings are significant not only for parents but for teachers, health professionals, and adolescents themselves. We would recommend that these groups are made aware of the potential issues surrounding screen use during bedtime including insufficient sleep and poor sleep quality."

Source: Eurekalert

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