Pre-school children who are used to spending more hours in front of the TV sleep less than those who sleep less or don’t watch it at all. The study, which appeared in Sleep Health, was carried out by a group of researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and thus confirms the negative impact of being in front of a screen on the quality of children’s sleep.
The study’s lead researcher, neuroscientist Rebecca Spencer, helped by student Abigail Helm, analyzed a diverse group of 470 preschoolers from Western Massachusetts. During several sessions, these children wore, for a maximum of 16 days, a special instrument called an actigraph, a sort of wristwatch capable of measuring the quality of sleep duration. Other data came from questionnaires sent to parents or guardians concerning the child’s behavior.
According to the results, pre-school children who watch less than one hour of TV per day sleep 22 minutes more at night, almost 2.5 hours per week, than those who watch more than one hour of TV per day. In addition, small children without a TV in their room show that they sleep 30 minutes more at night than those with a TV in their room.
The research also disproved the myth that TV is a good companion that helps children fall asleep better.
The study focused only on the impact of TVs, but the same researcher promises to perform the same experiments with portable digital devices, primarily smartphones and tablets, which are increasingly used by children before falling asleep.