MONDAY, Jan. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Children and teens who spend time watching television, playing video games or using the computer right before bedtime are likely to take longer to fall asleep than those who watch less or none, according to new research.
And that could add up to a sleep deficit, experts said.
"Reducing screen time in this pre-sleep window could be a good strategy for helping kids go to sleep earlier," said study leader Louise Foley, who was a researcher at the University of Auckland in New Zealand at the time of the study.
Foley and her team zeroed in on how much TV watching and video game playing children and teens, 5 to 18, did in the 90 minutes before their bedtime. They also looked at how long it took them to fall asleep. The more screen time, the longer it took to doze off.
The study was published online Jan. 14 and in the February print issue of the journal Pediatrics.
The findings are no surprise, said Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a distinguished professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington, in Seattle. Christakis has studied the effects of media use on children.
"There is growing evidence that media use around sleep time is bad for sleep initiation," Christakis said.
The new study, he said, suggests that "it's not so much having a bedtime for your children. You have to have a bedtime for their devices."
Although previous research has found that television viewing and other "screen-time" activities are linked with a decline in the length of time children and teens sleep, the new study is believed to be the first to look at the pre-bedtime period by asking youth (or their parents, for the younger children) to account for their time in detail.
In the new study, the researchers found that about one-third of the 90 minutes before bedtime, on average, involved watching television, playing video games or w
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