Do you have a hard time promoting good sleeping habits for your children? Are you bothered that they might not have adequate sleep for their age? Are they frequently awakened in the middle of the night and have difficulty going back to sleep? Parents may have tried a lot of things to promote sufficient sleep for their children by giving them warm milk before bedtime, following their bedtime routines, telling them bedtime stories and calming their environment at night, but it seems that these are sometimes not enough. Well, apparently parents should begin looking into what children watch on TV.
A study published in the journal of Pediatrics found that younger children tend to sleep better when they watch age-appropriate, educational TV programs and those that teach good values. Due to this, it is a fact that the kind of TV programs that children watch affects their sleeping patterns.
The study further saw an improvement in the sleep patterns of children when parents intervened by changing their media diet from violent cartoons to educational and non-aggressive ones like Dora the Explorer, Sesame Street and Curious George. The improvements in their sleep included fewer sleep problems, increased empathetic behaviours as well as less aggression before sleeping.
What are Considered Poor Sleep Patterns in Children?
Poor sleep does not only involve interrupted sleep and difficulty falling asleep. Some of the common examples of sleep problems for children include:
Nightmares are common in younger children who already have vivid imaginations such as those aged 3 to 5 years. When they watch violent or aggressive cartoons and programs for instance, they tend to think of the violent scenes over and over again and this might cause nightmares.
- Night waking
Night waking causes disruption in the sleep cycle and it usually happens during the REM phase of sleep. This may be due to a bad dream or disruption in respiration.
- Difficulty waking
A child who is difficult to awaken usually experiences lack of sleep at night. If your child is difficult to wake up, then it’s time to take measures to promote better sleep at night.
- Daytime sleepiness or tiredness
When children become sleepy during the day, it also means that they don’t get enough sleep at night. It is essential that children go to sleep early at night so that they can have sufficient sleep before they need to wake up early for school.
Effects of Poor Sleep in Children
Lack of sleep in children may be detrimental for their health because children need the most amount of sleep at night for their growth and development. The following are the common effects of poor sleep in children:
- Poor growth
Most of the hormones responsible for growth are produced when they get enough sleep at night, specifically two hours after their sound sleep is maintained.
- Poor school performance
Poor sleep may not only affect the growth and development of children, but also leads to poor school performance since they tend to get sleepy and tired during the day.
While they become restless during the day and feel sleepy, most children may also develop hyperactivity during the day because the disruption in sleep may also lead to disruption in the chemical signals in their brain.
Since sleeping patterns in children are greatly influenced by the TV programs they watch, it should be noted that parents need to change their children’s media diet. As much as we might want to eliminate television completely, children also need this kind of media to learn things. Instead of allowing them to watch violent TV programs that seem to be child-friendly, it is better to focus on educational programs such as Sesame Street and Curious George.
Posted by Pitt Goumas