Your body and your brain need sleep. During sleep, the brain sorts through and stores information, replaces chemicals and even solves problems while you snooze.
Most kids don’t get enough sleep. Kids ages 5 to 12 need nine to 12 hours of sleep each night. Not every child is the same, and some need more sleep than others.
Remember the last time you didn’t get enough sleep? That heavy, groggy feeling is awful, and when you feel that way, you’re not at your best. Without enough sleep, kids can feel moody, tired or cranky. It might be hard to pay attention or follow directions. Schoolwork that’s normally easy may feel impossible, or they may feel clumsy playing their favorite sport or instrument.
One more reason to get enough sleep: If they don’t, kids might not grow as well. It’s a fact: Too little sleep can affect growth and their germ-fighting immune system, which keeps them from getting sick.
Electronics Before Bed
According to Dr. Gwen Dewar’s Parenting Science website, researchers believe that electronic media – especially when used at bedtime – put kids at risk for sleep trouble. Why? There are several reasons:
- Experiments confirm that the blue light emitted by electronic screens can suppress melatonin levels and reprogram the brain to delay sleepiness.
- The exciting (and sometimes distressing) content of electronic media may have the same effect, prompting children to fall asleep later, and even wake up during the night.
- In countries around the world, the use of electronic media has been linked with sleep problems in children – including delayed sleep onset, shorter sleep times and daytime drowsiness.
Reducing Screen Time’s Effects on Sleep
Here are some ways you can reduce the negative effects of screen time on your child’s sleep, from the Australian parenting website RaisingChildren.net.au:
- Avoid digital technology use in the hour before bedtime. This includes mobile phones, tablets, computer screens and TV. Encourage reading or quiet play instead.
- Limit and monitor violent content at any time of day. This can affect sleep regardless of the time and length of use.
- Encourage your child to connect with friends during the day rather than late in the evening.
- Encourage your child to replace daytime screen time with outdoor physical activity or play. This can improve sleep at night.
- Have a family rule that requires leaving mobile phones and other devices in a family room overnight.
We also recommend printing and trying this worksheet to troubleshoot issues you may be having, as well as this printable bedtime routine.
More Links to Help You and Your Child Rest Easier
- Learn more sleep tips for your child, in this blog piece from Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System and this piece from MultiCare Yakima Memorial Hospital.
- Discover how much sleep your kids – and you – need at every age, in this article from Reid Health.
- Is melatonin safe to give to kids who can’t sleep? Find out more here from OSF HealthCare.
- Turn off that screen! Click here for advice from our friends at Memorial Health.