This is by no means a judgement piece, we have screens in our house and we use them, yes that includes my children. I do put limitations on them that work for my family. This is a piece about what is recommend by the world health organisations for children screen time and how it can impact on their sleep.
So what is screen time?
Screen time is the amount of time spent using a device such as a smartphone, computer, television, or video game console. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends no sedentary screen time, for children under 2 years of age. As I said there is no judgement if your little one has used a screen. For children aged 2 years of age WHO recommends no more than 1 hour of sedentary screen time a day, this is also the recommendation for children aged 3-4 years.
So they are the recommendations, what I am really interested in is how screens impact on our children sleep. Screen time before bed can have a huge impact on sleep, watching a screen (watching TV, watching iPad or phone) in the hour before a child goes to bed have the ability to disturb their bodies natural window down process. By not watching a screen in the hour before bed time it will encourage a child to fall asleep faster and have better quality sleep. If a little one is trying to go sleep with a screen on it can impact on the how they go to sleep, how often they wake and also the quality of their sleep. By removing the screen a child will have a much better quality sleep, they will go to sleep faster and have less wake ups during the night.
How can we change this?
If you want to change your child’s screen time before bed you could implement a ‘No Screen’s after tea’ rule or whenever it is an hour before bedtime in your house. This may mean everyone puts their screens away, this may be hard at first as change often can be however the key is consistency. Once the rule is in place stick to it, when you see how your child’s sleep is improving you will never look back.
So what to do in the hour before bed without a screen?
Well this will depend on the age of your child, if your little one is under 2 years they may be having dinner, then a bath and then if you read a book or implement your bed time routine which could be a book or song an hour would most likely be up. If your child is over 2 you could instead you could allow them to do quite activities books, puzzles, train set, lego, drawing and the list goes on. It could be a time you can play games with your child, an hour really can quickly especially if you have to fit a bath in as well.
I have seen amazing results from families who have made this small change of no screen the hour before bed, children will go to bed faster and have better quality of sleep meaning a happy well rested child.