Electronics and technology make life simpler in many ways, but when it comes to sleep we could do without the distraction and light of our cell phones and tablets.
As part of Sleep Awareness Week from March 2-9, 2014, the annual Sleep in America poll was released on March 4. The results provide evidence that electronics actually can harm the sleep quality of children.
For example, statistics show that children ages 6-17 who leave specific electronic devices on during the night such as a television, tablet, smartphone and music player or radio, sleep less on average during school nights than children who don’t keep devices on. Parents who responded to the survey gave estimates of average sleep times for their children.
Children who at least sometimes leave smartphones on during the night only sleep an average of 7.4 hours, compared to 8.3 hours for children who don’t have the devices turned on.
The poll focuses on sleep quality in families, and more specifically the sleep quality of parents and their children. A major section of the poll was dedicated to technology’s impact on children’s sleep quality.
Another important finding was that besides the number of hours of sleep decreasing due to electronics use, the sleep quality of children also decreased, according to their parents.
It was estimated that of the children who sometimes have a television on at night, 18 percent had fair or poor sleep quality, 50 percent had good sleep quality, and 31 percent had excellent sleep quality.
Among children who always had the television off or not in the room, only 8 percent had poor sleep quality, 47 percent had good sleep quality and 45 percent had excellent sleep quality.
So why are electronics causing children to sleep less? Besides the obvious distraction (children are engaged in an activity instead of sleeping) electronics can also interrupt our body’s natural functioning due to the light the screens emit at night.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, light from electronics sends alert signals to our brains that keep them awake.