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Connecticut Families Extra: TV time hurts preschoolers’ sleep too

Connecticut Families

“Sleep is critical for memory. Sleep is critical for emotional control and emotional regulation.”

New research shows why television watching might have a strong impact on sleep in some of the youngest viewers. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends preschool-aged kids get about ten to thirteen hours of sleep every day, including naps!

Parents know a lot of things can get in the way of a sleep. Now, researchers at the University of Massachusetts are studying the impact of television on young children’s sleep

For some kids, it’s allowed to have a TV in the bedroom. Others don’t have TV at their fingertips, but wish they did.

Developmental scientist Abigail Helm and colleagues at the Somneuro sleep lab studied 470 kids between ages three and six. The researchers surveyed parents about their kids’ sleep habits and found 36 percent of the kids had TVs in their bedrooms and one-third of those kids typically fell asleep with the television on.

The researchers then outfitted most of the kids with a Fitbit-like watch called an Actigraph, which provides a reliable estimate of sleep.

“It helps us get an idea of what their activity looks like during the day and we get an idea of what it looks like when they’re sleeping and when they’re napping.”

The researchers found children who watched more than one hour of TV a day or those who had a TV in their bedroom got less sleep than those who watched less TV and did not have a TV in their room.

To improve preschoolers’ sleep, researchers suggest parents remove TV from the bedroom. If that’s not an option…

“Maybe try to turn off the TV 30 minutes before lights out and make sure that part of the routine.”

Even though some of the kids who watched more TV napped longer than the kids who watched less, that nap time was not enough to make up for the decrease in nighttime sleep.

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