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Electronics Reduce an Hour of Sleep in Kids

Update Date: Sep 05, 2014 08:29 PM EDT
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Turning off televisions, computers and phones might add an hour to sleep in children between the ages of six and 17.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, three out of four children have at least one electronic device in their bedrooms. Researchers said this is worrying because kids with electronic devices in their rooms sleep an hour less per night.

Experts suggest that parents develop and enforce a nighttime routine that involves either a bath, storytelling or listening to soothing music.

Later, all electronics in the bedroom should be turned off. Previous studies revealed that the light from backlit electronics like tablets, smartphones and video games can interfere with sleep.

"The burst of light from a phone (even if it's just to check the time) can break a sleep cycle," lead researcher Dr. Jill Creighton, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Stony Brook Children's Hospital, said in a news release. "A regular alarm clock is best."

"Reduce screen time by 30 minutes or more each week until you reach your goal," says Dr. Creighton. "A good rule of thumb is try to limit recreational screen time to 60 minutes every day. And for every 30 minutes of screen time, make sure your kids get 30 minutes of physical activity."

Researchers also suggest that parents replace screen time with an activity.

"It's sometimes hard to get kids off the couch and get them moving, especially if they think of physical activity as "exercise'' or "boring," says Dr. Creighton. "Parents, get creative and make moving fun for kids."

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