published in KC Parent April 2012 issue
With both parents and children more dependent than ever on social media for entertainment and overall survival in the world, shutting off the noise and getting some restful sleep can be challenging.
“Sleep difficulties in children are on the rise—and this trend will get worse before it gets better. Estimates for the number of children with abnormal sleep range from 1 in 10 in the general population,” writes Victoria Dunckley, M.D., in her article “Wired & Tired: Electronics and Sleep Disturbance in Children,” published in Mental Wealth.
“Evidence shows video games and other electronics induce the fight-or-flight syndrome, putting the body in a state of stress. Studies show sustained increases in blood pressure and pulse, even hours after playing,” Dunckley says. “It doesn’t have to be a violent game or even a game at all! Internet surfing and texting will similarly put the brain and body in a state of stress, just from the high level of visual and cognitive stimulation.”
There needs to be a set bedtime routine for your tweens and teens – just like when they were infants! “Tween-dom” is a stressful place, with school pressures, relationships, hormones and expectations, so sleep can be challenging.
Nightly at a set time, have your family deposit all electronics in a basket in your room. This will be the point in the evening where all family members need to turn off the noise and concentrate on relaxing. (GASP!) Are you saying parents should do this as well? Children learn better by example…that’s all I’m saying!
Northeast Kansas mom Karyn says, “For many reasons my boys have to ‘turn in’ their devices at bedtime, and they don’t get them back until the next day after their homework is checked. This rule has set my mind to ease.” She continues, “I know they are sleeping, or at least working on it, when they go to bed. It has also ensured they get right on task with homework when they get home from school.”
Computers, TVs and video games shouldn’t be in children’s rooms. Creating a sleeping place with fewer temptations for midnight “Google-ing” or television watching is imperative. Those are the kinds of interruptions that ensure your child’s never reaching stage 4 of REM sleep—which is the so-critical restorative stage.
Stacey Hatton is a pediatric RN and freelance writer.