Take a TV timeout

By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: May 29th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

It’s tempting for a weary parent to plop kids in front of the television to try to lull them to sleep. But new research shows that watching television before bedtime might actually create sleep problems for a child.

The study suggests that children who watch a lot of television, especially at bedtime or in their bedroom, are more likely to have trouble sleeping, wake more frequently and resist going to bed. In fact, doctors conclude that television may act as a stimulant for some children.

The study examined the sleep and television habits of nearly five-hundred children in kindergarten through fourth grade. More than seventy-six percent of their parents said T-V viewing was part of their children’s usual bedtime routine. Nearly sixteen percent of children actually fell asleep in front of the T-V at least twice a week.

Nearly half the parents said their children had at least one sleep problem, such as not wanting to go to bed or difficulty falling asleep.

Most parents thought their children’s sleep disorders had nothing to do with television watching. But doctors say evidence suggests otherwise.

Previous studies have shown that heavy T-V viewing may be linked to depression, anxiety, violent behavior and obesity.

And the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that children under two not watch any television because they say it interferes with one-on-one interaction.

Instead of watching television before bed, try playing a game. Or reading together. Some snuggle time is much more likely to lead to sound snoozing.