MONDAY, Aug. 6 (HealthDay News) -- There's more evidence that watching violent or age-inappropriate images on TV, in movies or on computers can significantly disrupt children's sleep.
Kids between 3 and 5 years old who were exposed only to age-appropriate viewing materials in the hour before bed were 64 percent less likely to have any type of sleep disturbance, such as trouble falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep or nightmares, according to a new study.
Perhaps surprisingly, "violent" media might even include popular kids' fare such as SpongeBob SquarePants, said the study's lead author, Michelle Garrison.
"Making a relatively simple change in what kids are watching is a change worth the effort," said Garrison, a principal investigator at the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children's Research Institute. "Sometimes parents feel overwhelmed by the idea of getting rid of TV altogether, but switching shows can make a big difference."
The study will be published in the September issue of the journal Pediatrics, and was released online Aug. 6.
Numerous studies have linked media use with sleep problems, but most of these studies have had children of various ages and varying media use. It also hasn't been clear whether watching something right before bed is stimulating in itself or if the content of the media plays a role.
The current study included nearly 600 children aged 3 to 5 living in the Seattle area. Families were randomized into one of two groups: One group received a home visit, follow-up phone calls and mailings with coaching about how to make better media choices for their young children; the other group simply received mailings about nutrition.
The researchers didn't attempt to reduce the total number of hours of media use. The goal instead was to reduce violent and age-inappropriate content.
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