In an ideal world, elementary school children would get 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night and teens about eight to nine hours. That’s according to the National Sleep Foundation, which promotes nightly rest to keep people healthy and alert for all that life throws at them.
Real life, in which young people spend a growing amount of time watching TV, playing video games and using a computer before bedtime, is another matter. But where real life intrudes on a good night’s sleep, the electronic distractions that computers bring can result in a lack of rest that could be harmful to children’s health.
“There is growing evidencethat media use around sleep time is bad for sleep initiation,” Dimitri Christakis, M.D., professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington, told MedLine Plus. “It’s not so much having a bedtime for your children. You have to have a bedtime for their devices.”
Still, reducing exposure to electronic devices could be a good way to set reasonable bedtimes for youngsters, according to Louise Foley, Ph.D., who led a study on the subject at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. The findings were published recently in the journal Pediatrics.
Study may be a breakthrough
The research team focused on how much TV watching and video game playing by youngsters, ages five to 18, occurred during the 90 minutes prior to their bedtimes. Researchers also considered how long it took for the children to doze off and concluded that the more screen time the study participants experienced right before going to bed, the longer it took them to fall asleep.
According to Pediatrics, many previous studies have examined the links between electronic devices and sleep habits, but the New Zealand research may be the first to look at the pre-bedtime period by asking children and their parents to detail how they spent their time immediately before going to bed. About one-third of the 90-minute period was spent with TV, video games and computers, the researchers found.
Making sure that children get an appropriate amount of sleep is just one of the ways to ensure their good health. Another is to provide dietary supplements such as CalMax Kids from Dr. Newton’s Naturals, a nutritious beverage powder formulated to build stronger bones in kids. It includes 22 percent of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommended daily value of calcium as well as magnesium and vitamin C. CalMax Kids is safe for children ages 2 and older.