Once you survive the newborn months of baby not sleeping through the night because of the reality that they are babies who need to eat every two to three hours, you see this beacon of sleep light in the toddler years. But sometimes that doesn't happen either. There are the wake-ups and the crawling into bed with you or even you ending up squished into the princess-themed twin sheets along with your child and 47 favorite stuffed animals, feet cold from dangling off the end, arm asleep from lying on it, and not wanting to move for fear of waking your child who finally snoozed. Why is this happening, you wonder? This no sleep business. Why can't my child sleep through the night?
The answer has everything to do with technology.
When our kids sleep less it's not good for them -- they need sleep to grow in body and mind. It's also terrible for us, as parents. We need sleep BECAUSE WE. NEED. SLEEP! I speak for myself when I tell you that if I don't get enough sleep, I am a miserable, headachey, awful human being. But what we subject our kids to, as well as ourselves, truly affects how we sleep -- or if we get any shut-eye at all. A study in Pediatrics looked at the lives of kids from 5 to 18, particularly what their bedtime routine was and how they spent the hour and a half before bed. There was a trend for those who didn't sleep well and I feel it can translate to not only our younger kids, but us as adults as well. Here are the reasons your kid isn't sleeping through the night.
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1. The TV. Those who wouldn't fall asleep at the proper "bedtime" watched 13 more minutes of TV than those who went to bed earlier. The more time kids spend in front of the TV in a day, the harder it was for them to snooze at night.
2. Video games. Same effect as TV, even if we don't want to think of it as television.
3. The Internet. This seems to go for all those electronic books, too. We have to go old school when it comes to wind-down time.
4. The TV. Yes, again. It must be stressed and I know I'm making some changes in my own household as a result of this. The TV screen and its lighting seems to act as a wake-up call. Louise Foley, one of the researchers of this study, said, "There is a suggestion that TV affects sleep hormones because screens emit blue light and that could delay sleep onset."
(Note to self: Stop Pinteresting before bed.)
Of course there is no magic amount of time we should allow our kids in front of the TV, computer screen, or hand-held video game device. All kids are different -- this is a study and there are always exceptions. My niece seems to need the TV to fall asleep. But if this helps any family get more zzz's by turning off the TV sooner, then this information is a total win. This goes for babies, toddler, big kids, and adults.
Do you think TV and electronics affect your child's sleep? Do you allow them to watch TV before bed?