TV in Bedroom Linked to Poor Sleep and Obesity in Kids

Posted Tue, 10/23/2012 - 9:08am by Camilla Cheung

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A study from the University of Alberta has made the link between sleep, electronic devices, and increased obesity rates. Canadian researchers did a province-wide survey of Grade 5 students and found that too little sleep, as well as the presence of a TV or other electronic device in the bedroom, led to increased chances of kids being overweight or obese.

As little as one hour of additional sleep per night decreased the odds of being overweight by 28 to 30 percent. Getting more sleep at night was linked to more physical activity and better diet choices in children. Having a TV, DVD player, computer, video game console, or cellphone in their bedroom also significantly increased kids' chances of being obese. The findings have led the researchers to recommend that parents keep technology out of the bedroom, which will help children to sleep better and, by extension, improve their health.

The study, which surveyed about 3,400 children, found that approximately half of the children had a TV or DVD player in their bedrooms, 21 percent had a computer, and 17 percent had a cell phone. Students reported watching TV or movies, or doing other electronic activities, after they were supposed to be asleep.

Kids with just one device had a 1.47 times higher risk of being overweight or obese, and kids with all three devices had a 2.57 times higher chance of being overweight.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, school-age kids aged 5-12 years should be getting about 10-11 hours of sleep every night. But Alberta researchers are concerned that two-thirds of children are not getting enough sleep at night.

School-age children face a variety of demands on their time, including homework, sports, and extracurricular activities, as well as TV, computers, and other media. Watching TV or being engaged in other electronic activities before bed can lead to sleep disruptions, anxiety during sleep, nightmares, and lost sleep. In addition to an increased risk of obesity, kids who don't get enough sleep at night may have mood swings, behavioral problems, hyperactivity, and cognitive problems.

Children who get adequate sleep at night have better academic outcomes, fewer mood disorders, and are generally healthier. Teaching kids to have healthy sleep habits at night while they are young can help them to be healthier and more successful in the long term. To make a long story short — be sure to protect the sleep that your child needs and limit TV, especially around bed time.

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