The Boob Tube and the Sandman – Does TV Affect How Our Kids Sleep?

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watching tvBrett Hammond

Ipod, Fire Kindle, big screen, computer screen, this screen, that screen… all things our kids love to do before bed.  Recent research from the University of Auckland in New Zealand setout to ask the question; Do the things our kids do 90 minutes before bed affect how fast they are able to fall asleep?


The researchers looked at over 2,000 kids ages 5-18 and lumped their pre-bedtime activities into 1 of 3 buckets: screen sedentary time, non-screen sedentary time, and self-care.  Then they threw the onset of sleep in 4 other buckets: very early, early, late, or very late.


The entire group averaged about 30 minutes of screen time in the 90 minutes before bed and TV was the most common activity.  One of mine has been known to watch Zack & Cody on the Kindle, while watching Psych on the TV!  They found that the kids that had the most screen time were the ones that took the longest to fall asleep… and the ones that had the least screen time… fell asleep the quickest.


Maybe this wouldn’t be a big deal, but research from Boston College suggests that U.S. kids are the most sleep deprived kids in the world.  They looked at 50 countries, and found that on average, 46.5% of 9-10 year olds were sleep deprived according to their teachers, but the U.S. topped the list at 73%… and 80% for ages 13-14.


School age kids need between 8-12 hours of sleep each night, and not getting it can affect their learning, mood, and immune system, just name a few.  That said, we all know our own kids, and we all know they need good sleep.  We also know what they’re like when they don’t get it.  Research like that done in New Zealand can help us do a better job as sleep police… a thankless job, I know!

How much time do your kids spend in front of a screen before bed?  Based on this, mine spend too much, maybe 45 of the 90 minutes before bed.


Co-Founder of NutritionGeeks, retired USAPL drug-free powerlifter, volunteer youth wrestling coach, father of 3 amazing boys and interested in all things health

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