Last updated on Jun 22nd, 2021 at 12:23 pm

Research has found that preschoolers who watch TV get less sleep than those who don’t. So how much TV can you let your kids watch?

The reason for some young children struggling to sleep could be related to how much TV they watch.

This is according to new research by the University of Massachusetts Amherst neuroscientist Rebecca Spencer and developmental science graduate student Abigail Helm.

The study suggests that TV use by young children affects the quality and duration of sleep, measured for the first time by an actigraphic device that 470 preschoolers wore like a watch on their wrist.

They found that preschoolers who watch less than one hour of TV per day get 22 more minutes of sleep at night – or nearly 2,5 hours per week – than those who watch more than an hour of TV daily.

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Moreover, while daytime napping was found to increase among the kids who watched the most TV, it did not fully compensate for the lost sleep at night.

The power of play for preschoolers

TV doesn’t help kids wind down

“The good news is, this is addressable,” says Spencer, referring to the opportunity to educate parents about the new, myth-shattering evidence that TV does not help young children fall asleep.

Children between age two and four years should have no more than one hour of “sedentary screen time” daily – World Health Organisation

“Parents assumed that TV was helping their kids wind down. But it didn’t work. Those kids weren’t getting good sleep, and it wasn’t helping them fall asleep better. It’s good to have this data.”

How much TV screen time should kids get?

New guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO), which say that children between age two and four years should have no more than one hour of “sedentary screen time” daily – and less or no screen time is even better.

Similarly, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that daily screen time for two- to five-year-olds be limited to one hour of “high-quality programmes”, and that parents should watch the programmes with their children.

The WHO also emphasised the importance of young children getting “better quality” sleep for their long-term health.

Another reason why regular bedtimes for kids are important

Source: University of Massachusetts at Amherst via

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