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Television may cause childhood insomnia

Straight out of the drawer labeled 'common sense' (next to the one labeled 'well, duh') comes a study that found violent programmes can affect a child's sleep.

The study, undertaken by the Seattle Children's Research Institute, looked at a range of media consumption that included television, video games and online content. Researchers found that watching violent content during the day led to an increase in sleep problems in those aged three to five. Interestingly, daytime viewing of non-violent content didn't appear to affect a child's sleep at all.

Media consumption after 7pm was also linked with sleep problems, regardless of the content. These sleep problems included trouble falling asleep (insomnia), nightmares, frequent waking and daytime sleepiness.

So what are we to take from this? Firstly, you might want to think about whether your children are watching content that you're happy for them to see. The researchers found that younger children were watching TV shows intended for older children which can be problematic since preschoolers can't yet distinguish fantasy from reality in the way older children can.

Secondly, you might want to think about removing electronics from your child's room, or at least limiting media consumption in the evenings. The study's author recommends switching the TV off at least an hour before bedtime. On this note, it's worth mentioning that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that preschoolers watch no more than two hours of television a day.

Source: Pediatrics

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Last updated: August 9, 2011

This Article Was Written By

Martin Reed

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