How Technology in Bedrooms Affects Sleep

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Thanks to Delaney Ruston, Screenagers‘ Filmmaker, for sharing this article on how technology in bedrooms is having a major impact on kids’ sleep.  Timely, given the upcoming National Day of Unplugging on March 4.

By Delaney Ruston

major study showed the negative effect cellphones have on the quantity and quality of children’s sleep. It’s a major sleep public health issue: 75% of teens do not get the recommended 8 to 9 hours of sleep. Why public health experts care is because things like accidents, obesity, mental health problems all go up with sleep deprivation – and grades go down.

Many parents don’t allow TVs in their children’s bedrooms but lack similar guidelines around cell phones and computers. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children and teens not have any screens in their bedrooms including phones, computers or TVs.

The issue is compounded by teens’ natural tendency toward staying up late.

I talked to my son, Chase and other teens about going to bed at night and they tell me about how it is often hard for them to fall asleep. I looked at the data and found that it is normal for teens to not get tired until around 11 p.m.  This article in The Conversation cites researcher Mary Carskadon and others at Brown University who found that:

” …the human brain has a marked shift in its sleep/wake pattern during adolescence. At the onset of puberty, nearly all humans (and most mammals) experience a delay of sleep timing in the brain. As a result, the adolescent body does not begin to feel sleepy until about 10:45 p.m.”

Despite this science, the push to have schools start at a later time has been slow to gain traction. People have been working on this issue for more than twenty years and recently I was disappointed to learn from my friend and sleep expert, Lauren Hale, (who is the author of the article at the start of this TTT) that very few places around the country have implemented later start times.

Back to screens…. There are many reasons phones in the bedroom can affect sleep. Notifications from updates, texts, Snapchats and the like disturb sleep. It is hard for kids that like to game to have the constant pull of their gaming device right next them all night. You can eliminate the battles that ensue in your families around kids being on their devices late into the night if you simply create a rule about what time devices come out of the bedroom. Or, better yet, how about making bedrooms device-free altogether?

The National Day of Unplugging (sundown March 3rd to sundown March 4th) is a great time to start with a new rule around no cellphones in the bedroom.

For more discussion ideas, you can peruse past Tech Talk Tuesdays. If you are interested in seeing Screenagers, you can find event listings on our site and find out how to host a screening.

Stay in touch with the Screenagers community on FacebookTwitter and at www.screenagersmovie.com.

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