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TV Could Be Disrupting Your Kid's Sleep
Date:2/25/2008

Viewing, especially before bedtime, is linked to irregular sleep patterns for the very young, experts say

MONDAY, Feb. 25 (HealthDay News) -- It may seem like a good idea: Use a bit of TV viewing to help your young child get to sleep.

But a growing body of research is finding that infants and children under the age of 3 who watch TV -- even too much TV during the day -- struggle with interrupted sleep and irregular bed and naptime schedules.

"We know that many, many parents rely on TV and video as part of their child's sleep routine," said Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician at the University of Washington and co-author of "The Elephant in the Living Room: Make TV Work for Your Kids".

"Watching television before bed makes it more difficult for children to fall asleep," he added. "Scientific data support that."

As proof, Christakis pointed to a recent study he led with University of Washington colleague Dr. Darcy Thompson that found that children under age 3 who watch television are at higher risk of disturbed sleep. Other studies have looked at the effects of TV viewing on older children and teens, and also found a link between TV, poor sleep and later bedtimes.

Christakis and Thompson examined data from a national health survey of children aged 4 months to 35 months, and evaluated parent interviews for more than 2,000 children. The result: 27 percent of the youngsters had irregular bedtime schedules, and almost 34 percent had irregular nap schedules.

But here's the kicker -- the number of hours of television viewed was associated with a greater likelihood of an irregular sleep schedule, although no cause-and-effect relationship could be definitively established. On average, the babies younger than 12 months watched 0.9 hours of television; those 12 months to 23 months watched 1.6 hours daily; and those 24 months to 35 months watched 2.3 hours a day.

Thompson explained tha
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