Many parents are turning a blind eye to a very real issue: lack of sleep and technology go hand in hand. We, often, choose to ignore the uncomfortable realities of healthy parenting, such as that being in control of the online behaviour of our underage son or daughter, is part of what we must do.
The National Sleep Foundation survey supports that: ‘nearly three out of four children (72%) between the ages of 6 and 17 have at least one electronic device in their bedrooms while sleeping. Children who leave those electronic devices on at night sleep less -— up to one hour less on average per night.’
The importance of a good night’s sleep for their children is often underestimated by parents. Dr. Jill Creighton, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, emphasises the importance a good nights sleep plays in a child’s successful school year. Parents need to take on a more active role in monitoring technology activity at nights. So how do we start fixing this? First, we need to develop a bedtime routine that we follow regularly.
Dr. Creighton says ‘whether it’s a bath, reading a book or listening to soothing music, these activities will have a better impact on your child to help them relax before going to sleep.’
Secondly, follow the golden rule of powering off at night. The hour before bed should be strictly a no-electronics zone. ‘Studies show that the light from backlit electronics (like tablets, smartphones and video games) can disrupt our ability to fall — and stay — asleep. The burst of light from a phone (even if it’s just to check the time) can break a sleep cycle.’
A good idea would be to designate an area in your home where all the electronics will be plugged in and have your kids leave all their devices there one hour before bed. If your child belongs to the fast growing group of teenagers who are addicted to technology and might find this routine difficult to follow, there is help at hand. Dr. Creighton suggests to ‘reduce screen time by 30 minutes or more each week until you reach your goal. 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.’