Plenty of families use screen time before bed as a way of initiating some quiet time at the end of the day. After all, it slows down active bodies and is a way us parents can wind down too.
Yet research shows that using an iPad and other electrical equipment, or watching TV before bed can seriously affect a child’s sleep. Today I’m going to share with you the reasons why screen time before bed isn’t a great idea and what you can do instead.
THE TRUTH ABOUT SCREEN TIME BEFORE BED
The University of Auckland published a study in 2013 which identified that kids who watched TV or used other forms of screen time before they went to sleep took much longer to get to sleep. With over 2,000 children taking part, researchers identified that the more TV a child saw in the 90 minutes before bedtime, the less sleep they got.
Now I don’t know about you, but that is hugely significant to me. As a Mum, if my child doesn’t get enough sleep, they are grumpy, struggle to learn, become upset more easily and have even more trouble getting to sleep!
But wait, because it gets better. Okay, actually it’s worse. A study by the Seattle Children’s Institute showed that kids aged between three to five years who watched TV before bed were more likely to have nightmares (see our blog on children's night terrors), feel tired when they woke up and have trouble falling asleep.
HOW DOES ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT AFFECT A CHILD’S SLEEP?
iPads, tablets, smartphones and TVs all have bright lights, particularly blue and white light, which come from their screens. It is a well-known fact that the sleep hormone melatonin is reduced when our eyes see bright light. With melatonin controlling our circadian rhythms, if we have less, we find it harder to get to and stay asleep. It’s one of the reasons why we use blackout blinds in nurseries and why getting to sleep in summer is harder than in winter.
HOW WE CAN IMPROVE OUR CHILD’S SLEEP
90 minutes is the length of time it is suggested we stop using devices before bed. However, I’m realistic that may not be doable for some families. Try to aim for at least 30 minutes before bed or naptime when you make a point of turning off all electronic devices. Spend that time reading stories, talking, cuddling or playing quiet games instead.
Believe me I am no saint! Those that watch my Instagram Stories will indeed see my wee monkey watching his iPad before bed, but after doing this research I too am going to make a conscious effort to put the iPad away earlier and let that beautiful Sleepytot Ultimate Sleep Aid do its magic!
What is this Ultimate Sleep Aid I mention? The Ultimate Sleep Aid is another great way to improve your child’s sleep. Designed as a vaporiser, night-light and white noise all-in-one tool, The Ultimate Sleep Aid uses red light therapy to help promote the development of melatonin. This effectively counteracts the effects of the white and blue light from electronic devices, encouraging a much better sleep.
You can find out more about The Ultimate Sleep Aid here in our shop, including why these three combined sleep aids work perfectly together.