Dr Mark Rosenthal

MD MB ChB FRCP FRCPCH BSc

Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine

also specialist in Food Allergies & Disorders of Sleep

A | A | A

T: 0207 351 8832

E: s.harvey@rbht.nhs.uk

A:The Royal Brompton Hospital, London, SW3 6NP

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A little screen time can be great for entertaining and educating kids, but spending too much time staring at a screen or using one at the wrong time can cause problems. Setting some rules about screen time can often help with sleep disorders in children.

screen-time-and-children-sleep-problems

Too Much Screen Time

One way that screen time can trigger sleep disorders in children is if they are spending too much time on their devices. If all your child does after coming home from school is look at a screen, then he or she is unlikely to feel ready for sleep at bedtime. You may need to set a limit for how long they can use their devices each day. Parental controls can be set up on many devices to prevent them from being used for longer. You will also need to offer some alternatives to screen time. Make sure that your child is getting plenty of physical activity to tire them out, even if it‘s just playing in the garden. Spending some time interacting with you is also important. If the only time you’re together is at bedtime, then getting your attention may be more tempting than going to sleep. Just going for a walk together or chatting while you prepare dinner together can make bedtime easier.

Screens in the Bedroom

Screen time can be particularly disruptive for children’s sleep when it happens at bedtime. Many of the games and videos that children enjoy are stimulating rather than relaxing. A warm bath or a bedtime story is much better for setting a relaxing mood at bedtime. The light given off by screens can also contribute to sleep disorders in children by affecting circadian rhythms. It can make children feel more alert and awake, which is the opposite of what you want at bedtime. Try to avoid letting your child use a screen for at least 30 minutes before bed. It’s also important to take the screens out of the bedroom at night, just to get rid of the temptation to stay up late.

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