It’s entirely likely that screen time is affecting your family’s quality of sleep. Nearly all adolescents keep at least one device in their room, and adolescents who look at devices just before bed are three and a half times more likely to get fewer than five hours of sleep per night than their peers who abstain from screens just prior to bed time. Younger kids are certainly affected too, and adults aren’t immune from the effects screens have on sleep. Here’s what you need to know.
Screens Are Directly Linked to Poor and Reduced Sleep
A review of 67 studies of screens and sleep in children and adolescents has linked screen time to poor quality sleep, fewer hours of sleep, and delayed sleep. How? There are three key reasons.
Screens Suppress Melatonin
Your body’s sleep cycle is partly dependant on melatonin to regulate itself, and the blue light produced by laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other devices can suppress the production of melatonin. That’s why it’s best to abstain from screens for an hour prior to bed. And if you insist on working late nights, perhaps consider a program that reduces your screen’s blue light during evening hours.
Screens Keep Your Brain Alert
Your mind needs time to unwind before sleep and screens tend to provide us with things that aren’t conducive to unwinding. Games, social media feeds, news—consuming these types of media prior to bed aren’t a smart way to fall asleep.
Screens Wake You Up
Alerts, notifications, texts, calls—all these things can wake you up or otherwise ruin your sleep. Teens in particular are prone to this. A recent study found that a fifth of teenagers are waking up at night to check social media.
Adults Aren’t Immune
We’ve mainly focused on the dangers of screens to the sleep of children and adolescents, but there have been plenty of studies that show adults responding negatively to screen time just before bed. And that includes television.
1) Have a “device bedtime”. An hour or two before bedtime, put devices away.
2) Remove devices from bedrooms. Removing temptation (and blinking lights) from bedrooms will ensure your family gets better sleep. And this includes televisions!
3) Consider having a designated charging spot for devices. Making a shelf or cabinet into a charging spot, complete with a power bar and all the extra cables you need, not only makes for a more organised home, it helps reinforce bedrooms as device-free zones.
4) Create a gentle bedtime routine. No TV, social media, games, or snacks. Wind down with reading, talking, journaling, or bathing.
5) Police your own screen time. After all, kids will follow your example. For more ideas about managing screen time, take a look at this post.