Are Your Kids Having Trouble Sleeping?

Florence Cardinal Health Guide
  • A recent study done in Helsinki, Finland, confirms that TV viewing does have an effect on children's sleep. Researchers sent surveys to over 300 families with young children asking about TV viewing habits and sleeping disturbances. The results showed:

    • The majority of children watched TV one to two hours a day and were exposed to passive TV another hour or two.
    • Both active and passive TV viewing led to shorter sleep duration and other sleep disturbances.
    • The frequency of disturbances rose when children were exposed to adult content.
    • Watching TV in any capacity caused sleep onset problems.
    • Watching TV at bedtime caused a variety of sleep problems.
    • Exposure to two or more hours a day of adult programming was strongly related to sleep disturbances.

    So how much TV do your children watch? Do they watch just before going to bed? This TV viewing can lead to disrupted sleep and other sleep problems that have a lasting effect on your children's health.

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    Even passive TV watching can lead to sleep problems for your children. For example, say it's an hour or so before bedtime for the kids. They're sitting on the carpet engrossed with their toys, but close by where you can keep an eye on them. You switch the TV to your favorite police procedural - plenty of gun shots, screeching tires, talk of bodies and blood. Or maybe it's your favorite Sci-fi fantasy with laser weapons, exploding pace craft and aliens that talk like they have a mouth full of marbles.


    But that's okay, right? Your kids aren't watching. They even have their backs turned. But they aren't deaf or oblivious to what's taking place on the TV behind them. How much of what they're hearing is sifting down into their subconscious minds? It's hard to tell just by watching them, but some of it may emerge later as nightmares, sleepwalking or other sleep disturbances.


    It's a proven fact that late night TV and action-packed video games with their slam-bang activity, bright flashing lights and scenes of violence, gore and fright cause loss of sleep. Children are often too stimulated by all the action to fall asleep, or, when they do fall asleep, may suffer from frightening nightmares.


    The answer? Watch how much TV your children are exposed to. Monitor what they watch, and be wary of the type of programming you watch when the kids are in the room, even if they are not actively watching. Don't forget that current events on the news can contain some pretty scary stories for young children.


    The less TV for your children, the better. Encourage them to read or get involved in sports or other outdoor activities. Limit the hours of exposure to TV (even daytime TV) and you may find you have happier, healthier children.




Published On: March 06, 2008