Children who use electronic devices at bedtime have more than double the risk of not getting enough sleep during the night compared to those who don’t use them.
Further, a new review of 20 existing observational studies involving 125,198 children shows that sleep quality and daytime sleepiness were affected in a similar way.
“Our study is the first to consolidate results across existing research and provides further proof of the detrimental effect of media devices on both sleep duration and quality,” said Ben Carter of the Cardiff University School of Medicine.
“Sleep is an often undervalued but important part of children’s development, with a regular lack of sleep causing a variety of health problems. With the ever growing popularity of portable media devices, such as smartphones and tablets, the problem of poor sleep amongst children is set to get worse.
“Our findings suggest that an integrated approach involving parents, teachers, and health care professionals is necessary to improve sleep habits near bedtime.”
The findings appeared this week in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
Currently, 72 percent of children and 89 percent of adolescents have at least one device in their rooms, and most use devices just before going to bed. These devices are believed to affect sleep by displacing, delaying, or interrupting sleep time; psychologically stimulating the brain; and affecting circadian timing, sleep physiology, and alertness.
Sleep disturbance in childhood has been found to have physical and mental health consequences, including poor diet, sedentary behavior, obesity, reduced immunity, stunted growth, and mental health issues.