From Netflix series to social media sites, smartphones have the power to keep even the most health-conscious adult up past their bedtime. Children are enchanted by that blue glow too and Alberta researchers have pinpointed the impact on their sleep.
Nomathemba Dube, Paul Veugelers and a team of researchers from the University of Alberta School of Public Health surveyed 2,334 Grade 5 students and their parents about their sleep habits.
They discovered when devices such as TVs, computers, tablets, video games and cellphones were located in the bedroom and used an hour before bedtime, the quantity and quality of children’s sleep was affected. Cellphones cut sleep by close to 11 minutes, computers by 10 minutes and TV by nearly eight minutes.
“If you have a classroom full of kids and everybody has 10 minutes short of sleep or has more devices, everybody has 20 minutes less of sleep – that makes a big difference,” Veugelers said.
By contrast, the researchers found children who read a book before falling asleep had better quality rest and slept longer.
“The recommendation to the child would be, ‘Keep your phone out of your bedroom,'” Veugelers said. “That would also be the recommendation to the parent.”
Edmonton mother Launa Aspeslet made a hard rule about smartphone use two years ago after checking on her 12-year-old daughter late at night and finding her awake and on her device.
“That’s when I realized she was probably not getting enough sleep,” she said. “So we talked about it for a bit and then it finally came to the point where in order to control that, I had to get her to start plugging it in outside her bedroom.
“Once I started doing that, I noticed she would sleep better and through the night and wake up a little more refreshed and not so tired and agitated.”
Aspeslet says if her daughter doesn’t dock her device before bed, she takes away the device for a full week.
“I think it’s worth the struggle to do it. It’s not easy, but parenting isn’t easy,” Aspleset said. “We’re here to set the example and teach good habits.
You can read the entire study about children’s sleep habits below: