How TVs, phones and screens spoil kids' sleep

Studies suggest that teenagers aren’t getting enough sleep. Being glued to their mobiles, tablets and other screens may be one reason why.

Just over half of 11 to 17 year olds say they are getting eight or more hours’ sleep a night. Sleep experts say young people in this age group tend to need at least eight hours’ sleep to concentrate at school and to maintain their health and wellbeing.

They reckon that screens and other electronic devices are to blame and advise placing strict limits on the use of TVs, mobile phones or computers in a child's bedroom during the evening. The light from screens can affect how easily children get to sleep, and gadgets can be a constant distraction, stopping children getting the rest they need.

Children need deep sleep

Professor Jim Horne of Loughborough University’s Sleep Research Centre is an expert in sleep deprivation and says children going through puberty and adolescence need to “sleep longer and deeper”.

“It’s a time during which their brains are undergoing major change,” he says. “The brain is undergoing major restructuring and rewiring, and sleep is important for it to recover.

“A poor night’s sleep can interfere with a child’s performance and behaviour the following day. There's a stereotype of teenagers being grumpy and bad-tempered, and that's sometimes due to a lack of sleep.”

“Bedrooms are changing from a place of rest and tranquillity to places where there are lots of things to keep children awake, such as computers and televisions,” says Horne.

“Children are often tempted to take their mobile phone to bed with them and start texting without their mum and dad knowing.

“This distraction means they're not in a relaxed state for good-quality sleep, which can affect their learning.

“I would place firm night-time limits on the use of a television, mobile phone or a computer in their bedroom." 

Find tips to help your child get a good night's sleep.

Page last reviewed: 30/03/2015

Next review due: 30/03/2017

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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

jazzybelle said on 29 October 2009

Interesting how "junk" sleep can lead to obesity by eating more sugar and carbs during the day to stay awake. I struggled for a long time with poor sleeping habits and never really made the connection.. I bought myself a bragada adjustable bed about a year and a half ago, which helped tremendously. I was able to get myself to wind down earlier. I figure it's mainly because I love to read, and the mattress made it so easy to get in a comfy position for reading. :) I do have a television in my room, but it rarely gets used. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing; I know people who can't seem to fall asleep without the low noise and light from the TV. It makes sense for children to not need one in their room though.

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