Sometimes the TV/iPad/iPhone are lifesavers! We’ve all had that moment in the day where we just need to get something done and keeping the kids busy with a TV show always seems to work. However, if you find your child is having trouble falling asleep at bedtime, it’s possible that screen time is the culprit. Here is a little information on how screen time can impact your child’s sleep.
In order to fall asleep, our bodies must produce the hormone melatonin. This hormone helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle by chemically causing drowsiness. In order to produce melatonin, our bodies require darkness. The blue light emitted from the screen of a TV/iPad/iPhone will actually inhibit the production of melatonin by making the body think it is still daytime. What all this means is that watching TV or playing on the iPad in the hours before bedtime can really make it hard for your child to fall asleep because the body just isn’t ready to sleep.
So what can you do about it? Turn off all screens about 1-2 hours before bedtime. Instead of screen time, help your child find better wind-down activities like quiet play, bath time or reading. One of the greatest replacements for screen time will be time spent with you. Playing quietly on the floor with your child or reading together will always be more fun for your little one than watching TV. The added bonus here is that extra time spent with you will reduce bedtime attention-seeking behaviors because your child will already feel satisfied by your time together. It’s also important to be a good example by putting your phone away or turning off your laptop, especially if you have a child who is struggling with the idea of no screen time before bed.
Reducing screen time doesn’t only have benefits for sleep. Research has shown that children who have less screen time have better school performance, less negative behavior and a lower Body Mass Index, so it’s worth making this boundary with your children. This doesn’t mean children can never have screen time, but standard guidelines recommend no more than 1-2 hours per day. In terms of sleep, avoid having that screen time in the hours before bedtime and you will find that your child can fall asleep much more easily.