Have you ever awakened in the middle of the night and checked for email or text messages? If so, chances are good that your kids have, too.
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) 2014 Poll revealed interesting findings when it comes to families and their sleep patterns. Of those surveyed:
- 89% of adults and 75% of children have at least one electronic device in their bedrooms. While a television was the most common device, 45% of parents and 30% of children had a tablet or smartphone with them when they go to bed at night.
- 26% of parents and 16% of children sent or read emails and text messages after initially dozing off. Technology has become commonplace in the bedroom. However, the duration and quality of sleep appears to suffer when children and adults leave devices on past bedtime.
- Sleep quality was significantly worse for children who sometimes left the television, tablet/smartphone or music player on at night.
- Children who leave their devices on get less rest on school nights than other children. Parents estimate it's a difference of nearly one hour, on average, per night.
- Parents also view of the quality of their child's sleep negatively if the child leaves electronics on during the night. This holds true even with older children, who are more likely to leave things on. Teens with left-on devices are estimated to get, on average, half an hour less sleep on school nights.
"For children, a good night's sleep is essential to health, development and performance in school," says Kristen L. Knutson, a biomedical anthropologist who researches sleep at the University of Chicago. "We found that, when parents take action to protect their children's sleep, their children sleep better."
The NSF shares these tips to improve your child's sack time:
- Make sleep a healthy priority in your family's busy schedule. Children ages 6-10 need 10-11 hours of shuteye. Older children need 8.5-9.5 hours.
- Set appropriate and consistent bedtimes for your entire family.
- Know how your child is using electronics in the bedroom. Create a plan for appropriate use at night and set boundaries about use before and after bedtime.
- Educate your family on how light from electronic device screens can interfere with winding down.
- Talk to your child about the importance of sleep for health and well-being.
- Create a snooze-supportive bedroom and home environment, dimming the lights prior to bedtime and controlling the temperature; in most cases, temperatures above 75 degrees and below 54 degrees will disrupt your rest.
- Encourage activities such as reading or listening to music before bedtime. These are more relaxing than watching TV, playing video games or surfing the Web.
- Make sure children's activities, including homework, can be completed without interfering with bedtimes.
Research shows, when it comes to technology, kids are following their parent's lead.
"Parents need to be good role models in their responsible use of electronics and their children will follow suit," says Monique K. LeBourgeois, a psychologist who researches sleep at University of Colorado Boulder.
It may be hard to resist, but setting the tone for a good night's rest can lead to a happier, healthier home.