As research shows children who use tech before bed can lose sleep as a result, experts give advice on how to help youngsters sleep soundly
24 January 2019| Last updated on 31 January 2019
Children’s tech obsession can be hard enough for parents to deal with during the day – but new evidence suggests they should be concerned about the effect it’s having on kids at night too.
Research shows that the 40% of children aged six and above who use mobile phones, laptops or tablets in the hours before bedtime are getting around 20 minutes less sleep a night than kids who don’t use tech in the run-up to bedtime.
And that means children who use tech before bedtime every night could end up with a sleep debt of around 121 hours a year. On average, children slept 60 minutes less if technology devices were in the room, compared to those who slept in a tech-free zone.
Parents reported an impact on sleep even if technology in the bedroom was switched off. The research also showed one in 10 parents feel unable to ensure their child gets the sleep they need.
However, these tips can help school-age children get a good night’s sleep:
1. Screens off
Turn all screens off at least half an hour before bath time and don’t have TVs or computers in the bedroom.
2. Routine is vital
A consistent bedtime routine will help your child feel safe, and ready to sleep, although Grace warns that parents with more than one child will need to be organised.
3. Early homework
Try to get homework done well before bedtime. It’s nice to have quiet time together before bed, chatting or reading.
4. No stimulants
Avoid fizzy drinks, chocolate or other foods containing stimulants. Encourage your child to have a nourishing evening meal which is rich in carbohydrate and protein.
5. Bath then bed
Having a bath will only promote sleep if it’s immediately before bed, otherwise it may give children a second wind. So after your child’s bath or shower they should go directly to their bedroom rather than coming back into the living room.
6. Give them a comfy bed
Make sure your child’s bed and mattress are comfortable, and they have the right amount of bedding for the room temperature
7. Attention please!
During the preparation for bed, give your child or children your fullest possible attention, and try not to take telephone calls. As well as feeling safe, children need to feel loved in order to sleep well, show your child how important they are by giving your time, even if that time is being shared with siblings.”
8. Don’t use bedrooms as punishment
Children need to have happy associations with the room in which they sleep if they’re going to really relax and sleep well.
9. Give reassurance for sleep problems
School-age children can demonstrate a wide range of sleep difficulties, including settling problems, delayed sleep onset, waking during the night and nightmares. Parents should work with their child to reassure them and also to help them to go off to sleep happily and alone at the beginning of the night.