Children, Screen Time and Sleep


Sleep is a vital part of our physical and mental development and our overall well-being. It is important for behavior, memory, emotions, learning and our health in general  And yet the total amount of sleep that children and adolescents are getting is continuing to decrease.


Although there is the potential for many reasons behind this trend, it is starting to emerge that screen time – by watching television, using computers, mobile phones and other electronic mobile devices it may be having a large and hugely negative impact on children’s sleep.

The use of these devices is incredibly widespread. A 2006 survey showed that nearly all adolescents have at least one electronic device in their bedroom. And that was 13 years ago. Today that number is 3-4 devices in bedrooms.   Given this, and the ever-increasing exposure to screen time especially in the hours before bedtime, it is perhaps not too surprising then that screen time is now associated with insufficient and ever-increasing poor quality sleep.


2014 review found consistent evidence that sleep was hampered by screen time, primarily in relation to shortened sleep duration and a delay in the timing of sleep. The latter finding was reported in 90% of the studies reviewed.

But the relationship between sleep and screen time is more complex than that. In many ways, screen time could be negatively influencing sleep,

The timing of a child’s screen time is one important factor. The use of these devices can lead to later bedtimes and, consequently, shorter sleep overall.  Screen time in the evening can cut into the time that children would normally be getting ready for bed and sleeping, delaying the start of sleep. This causes the total amount of time a child sleeps down. There is less time available for it.

It has also been said that longer screen times can affect sleep by reducing the time spent doing other activities that require exercise which is beneficial for sleep and sleep regulation.

The content on the screen, as well as the light that these devices emit, may also be responsible for poorer sleep.  What we are actually engaging with on the screen, can be bad for sleep. For example, exciting and stimulating video games, dramatic or scary television shows, or even over-stimulating phone calls can excite the brain and lead to the release of hormones such as adrenaline. This can make it more difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep,

Something less obvious but still just as important is the impact that light has on sleep and on our sleep-wake patterns  (circadian rhythm) in general. Many of the devices that are now used regularly emit bright light. Exposure to these light emissions in the important evening hours before sleep can increase alertness and excitability. Bright light at night can also disrupt the body’s naturally occurring circadian (or daily) rhythms by holding back the release of the hormone melatonin, which is vital for maintaining and controlling our normal sleep-wake cycle.

It is becoming more and more clear that limiting screen time in the period right before bedtime is beneficial for sleep. Relating to this is to remove electronic devices from the bedroom provides a good sleep environment and will promote good regular sleep practices.

It is yet to be established how much is too much when it comes to screen time,  recent guidelines recommend that children under the age of 13 are limited to two hours per day, and children below five to less than one hour. And they should not be during the time leading up to bedtime.

With having a more balanced approach to screen time and the use of electronic devices, the clear benefits can be obtained from these devices while still maintaining and prioritizing sleep, health, and development.

Girl with headphones looking at the tablet

If you have a child who has sleep problems whether going to bed, staying asleep or waking too early there are natural solutions in addition to limiting screen time. One option is  Luna Kids an all-natural, non-habit forming sleep aid for children.



3 Comments on “Children, Screen Time and Sleep

  1. Very informative article, sharing on my FB wall and emails.
    Blessings, LJW


    • If you let me put an ad on your wall (not just sharing this post) then you will be entered 3 times. But for liking and commenting I have entered your name…Good luck and God Bless!


      • You also need to “like” the post ON my blog and then click on the FOLLOW button on the blog on the side. Forgot to mention that to you…..Thanks!!! ❤ 🙂


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