• Amelia Colley, M.D., FAAP
  • Philip Dawson, M.D., FAAP
  • Scott Iwashyna, M.D., FAAP

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Small Screens in Children's Bedrooms Can Harm Sleep

Research has shown children who have a television in their bedrooms have later bedtimes and shorter sleep duration.

A new study shows similar sleep problems in children who have a "small screen," such as a smartphone in their room. The study, "Sleep Duration, Restfulness, and Screens in the Sleep Environment," published in the February 2015 Pediatrics (published online Jan. 5), surveyed 2,048 fourth- and seventh-graders about bedtimes, wake times, feelings of sleepiness and the presence of televisions, smartphones and other small screens in their bedrooms.

Children who slept near a small screen and children with a television in their bedroom had shorter weekday sleep durations. Children who slept near a small screen were more likely to report perceived insufficient sleep. TV or DVD viewing and video or computer gameplaying were also associated with shorter weekday sleep duration and sleepiness. Children with screens in their sleep environment and more screen time also had later bedtimes.

Study authors conclude the findings caution against children's unfettered access to screen-based media in their bedrooms.