Good Question: Why Do Kids Have Trouble Sleeping?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — More than a third of American adults are sleep-deprived, according to a recent study released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). So, perhaps we should not be surprised that an alarming number of children have trouble sleeping.

Kids, TV and poor sleep: Is there a connection? Yes, there is, according to a government-sponsored study published online in the journal Pediatrics.

The study reports that roughly one out of five children is having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep. Those who watch television after 7 p.m. or watch programming considered violent — even cartoons — had the most problems.

“Watching violent media, video games or television, disturbs their sleep,” said psychologist and parenting expert David Walsh, PhD. “It delays their sleep and we also know how important sleep is for brain health.”

Walsh devotes chapters to the subject in his latest book, Smarter Parenting, Smarter Kids.

Walsh supports the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics: No television for children under the age of 2 and no more than two hours a day for older kids. Walsh further refines viewing for pre-school age children to no more than an hour a day.

Walsh says a lack of sleep has been proven to affect mood and classroom performance. Walsh said the brain is basically doing its routine maintenance every night as we sleep, filing away what we learned during the day and sweeping away things we don’t need to remember.

It’s not just TV to blame. There are also texts and tweets and computers keeping kids up.

“It’s pretty scary,” said Walsh. “The average American child is now up to over 53 hours a week in front of some sort of screen. We know that’s having a big impact on their ability to pay attention, on distraction, this whole thing called multi-tasking which is a topic in and of itself.”

  • Daddy Doo

    I did not have video games as a kid nor did I watch much TV. I played sports and ate a pretty healthy diet. I did not have a problem sleeping. Kids today eat a lot of processed foods and watch movies and play video games that are stressful and violent. There has to be a connection.

  • RaZZZ

    It is important to ensure adequate break time before bed – no matter what you’ve been doing prior to going to bed, especially children, you need to give your mind and body time to relax before laying down for sleep.  Whether you’ve been working, studying or watching T.V, quit what you’re doing at least an hour before bedtime.  A poll for the National Sleep Association found that 87% of respondents watched T.V within an hour of going to bed – at least a couple times a week.  Violent shows, news reports and vivid stories stay in our heads long after we’ve watched them.  Watching T.V or doing anything else that stimulates the brain before bed hinders your quality of sleep.  
    For some tips on what is OK before bed you can download the ebook, Get To Sleep Now!   Its got loads of information on what to avoid and what will help. For example, instead of watching TV before bed and stimulating your brain, call your mom or talk to your children/partner. Chatting is an incredibly beneficial way to slow down your brain, relax, unwind, get your thoughts out and fall asleep.

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