Thanks to Ryan Hurd for fleshing out these details – I hope that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. As with most things in the blogosphere (or in life in general) everything comes from somewhere else….
A relatively new trend has emerged that should cause us all concern about the critical time for sleep our children are getting (or more specifically, are not getting).
If you’re an adult now with a pre-Internet childhood, you can easily understand that we used to get all kinds of time for rest. There just wasn’t anything you could do without tying up the family phone, watching a couple of channels on the TV set, or physically going someplace to meet other people.
That’s all changed now – our kids can be “entertained” 24 hours a day. And that entertainment (social or not) is getting in the way of the sleep they so desperately need to grow.
Teens on average need 9.25 hours of sleep per night, but about 85% now report that they get less than 8.5 hours/night.
Think about these stats:
- An Israeli study found that kids with computers or TVs in their room go to bed an average of 30 minutes later than kids who don’t.
- The same study found that middle school students spent an average of 6 hours, 25 minutes in front of TVs and computers on week days! Having a TV or computer in the bedroom only increased these numbers.
- From a Belgian study about mobile phone use after “light out” for sleep: “Mobile phone use after lights out is very prevalent among adolescents. Its use is related to increased levels of tiredness. There is no safe dose and no safe time for using the mobile phone for text messaging or for calling after lights out.”
- A small Japanese study suggests that even playing computer or Smartphone games at night can effect REM sleep and sleep latency (the amount of time to get to sleep).
The net-net of all this is that, if you have children/teens at home with Internet, TV and Smartphone access – set some ground-rules about their use. A place to start could be:
- Pick any 1.5 hours of TV to watch tonight – but after that the TV is banned.
- Remove TV’s from kid’s bedrooms (this will cause some grief, I know).
- Ban phones from the dinner table. No texting or anwering calls during dinner.
- No eating in front of the TV or a computer.
- No Smartphones after bedtime in the bedroom. Leave them in the kitchen recharging.
- Limit the amount of time spent on a computer at night – they probably have a Smartphone too, so this likely isn’t a big deal (see rule #5). Homework (if it’s really homework) would be an exception for computer work.
If any of this interests you, hop on over to the more complete article Ryan has written…