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Lack of sleep and poor quality sleep are major public health concerns for children and adolescents. The number one culprit? Access to and the use of mobile devices, especially at bedtime. Sounds extreme, but the use of mobile devices or other screen based technology is triggering serious disruptions in children’s sleep patterns. Regular lack of sleep can cause a variety of health problems.

Sleep is one of the most important functions we perform each day. When our sleep is disrupted, everything else in life seems out of sync. This is especially true for children. In fact, multiple research studies have shown that disruptions in children’s sleep can have harmful effects on their overall health and development. Recently, researchers found that health problems such as hypertension and high blood pressure in children have been associated with dysregulated sleep patterns. Similarly, sleep disorders have also been found to cause problems with depression, anxiety, obesity, cognitive functioning and excessive daytime sleepiness.
 
 
Image result for children mobile sleepStudy investigators from Kings College in London concluded that media device access and use at night by children and adolescents results in poor sleep outcomes. In a study recently published by the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics, researchers analyzed 20 previous studies from Europe, North America, Asia and Australia, involving more than 125,000 children (ages 6-18). Data was categorized by children who had access to media devices (but did not use) and usage of media devices at night, and analyzed the related sleep outcomes for each group. 
 
 
Study authors reported that 72% of children and 89% of adolescents have at least one mobile device in the bedroom. Their findings showed that usage of the media device at bedtime was associated with poor sleep quality, excessive daytime sleepiness, lack of time spent asleep.
 
In fact, just the presence of the media device in the bedroom near bedtime was enough to disrupt the quality and duration of sleep for children.


But what causes the problems?

Well there seems to be multiple pathways that cause the disruptions in sleep. One problem is that the content can by psychologically stimulating which can displace, interrupt or delay sleep time. Secondly, the light from the device screens affects circadian timing, psychological sleep and alertness.
 
 
Ben Carter, lead study investigator stated that “with the ever growing popularity of portable mobile devices and their use in schools as a replacement for textbooks, the problem of poor sleep among children is likely to get worse.”. The problem is further exacerbated by the number of games, apps, videos and other web based activities that are constantly overstimulating the brain causing psychophysiological arousal.
 

 
So now what do we do?
 
Investigators offered several recommendations based on the study conclusions. They support agencies such as the Centers for Development Control and Prevention (CDC) in the development of age specific guidelines for media device access and usage. Parent should also work with teachers, and other health care professionals to educate children about the damaging influence of media devices on sleep patterns.
 
So… parents worried about how much sleep your child is getting at night? One simple solution… Encourage kids to put away the IPAD, Iphone, tablet, cell phone or other screen based mobile device at bedtime.
 
I know, easier said than done. But when you consider the evidence that mobile devices disrupt sleep, which could lead to poor health. Is there any other choice? So here’s what I say…
 
NO DEVICE AT NIGHT…SLEEP RIGHT…SLEEP TIGHT and GOOD NIGHT!
Image result for children mobile sleep
 
 





"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner
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