Televisions, computers, gaming consoles and mobile phones in children’s bedrooms can cause anxiety and sleep loss, Canadian researchers reported in the current issue of the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.
Having these devices in the bedroom trains the brain to see the room as a place for entertainment, rather than a place for calmness and rest, said the researchers from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada.
“One of the biggest culprits for inadequate and disturbed sleep is technology,’ said Dalhousie psychologist Jennifer Vriend, the study’s lead author. “Many teenagers sleep with their phones and they are awakened regularly by it ringing or vibrating throughout the night when they get a text, email or Facebook message,” she told The Telegraph. “Having televisions and games consoles in the bedroom is also a problem. It sets up the brain to see the room as an entertainment zone rather than a quiet, sleepy environment,” she explained. “So when a teenager is playing a violent video game regularly in his bedroom, his brain starts to associate it as a place where he should be on edge and ready for danger; the brain becomes wired to not want to sleep in that environment.”
The study also found that losing just one hour of sleep can negatively affect school performance by impeding memory and making it more difficult for children to solve math problems. By contrast, moving bedtime up by an hour makes children calmer and better able to concentrate, the researchers said.
On average, the study participants who went to bed an hour earlier slept just 73 minutes more per night than those who went to bed an hour later, but the consequences were dramatic, the researchers said.