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Study: TV Before Bed Results in Less Sleep

Many parents plop their kids in front of the TV at night to quiet their active bodies before bed. But it turns out this pre-bedtime ritual might actually be making it harder for them to fall asleep. A New Zealand study, published in Pediatrics, adds to the existing evidence that the more television children watch in the evening, the less sleep they get.

Plus: How to Get Your Child to Sleep (Really!)

The study involved more than 2,000 children and adolescents, tracking the activities participants engaged in during the 90 minutes before bedtime. Researchers then investigated how these correlated to the time it took for the children to fall asleep. All of the children in the sample spent some time watching television during the pre-sleep period. But those who fell asleep later had watched up to 13 more minutes of TV than those who conked out earlier.

Another study conducted by the Seattle Children’s Institute found similar results that watching television shows of any kind after 7pm can cause a 3- to 5-year-old to have trouble falling asleep, have nightmares or feel tired when they wake up.

Need some better before-bed entertainment? Study leader Louise Foley recommends that children focus on a non-screen activity, such as arts and crafts, homework, or spending some quality time with the family.

"We don't know yet the exact times of day that would be least disruptive," Dr. Foley said. "However, most international guidelines recommend children spend less than 2 hours in front of a screen per day, and our study suggests it would be good to limit this time particularly in the evening."

Do you let your kid watch TV before bed? Leave a comment.