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TV is Stealing Your Children's Sleep

Researchers say audio-visual stimulation at night can prevent a lengthy sound sleep for children, especially those under the age of eight.

| BY Kent McDill

Back in the day, parents had to check their children at bedtime to make sure they weren’t under the covers reading comics rather than going to sleep.

Today, the concern is late-night electronics, and the negative effect is much greater.

 A research study by MassGeneral Hospital for Children and the Harvard School of Public Health determined that there is a causal relationship between the time children spend in front of a TV monitor before bed and the duration of their sleep.

The study reports that the more time a child spends watching TV before going to bed, the less sound sleep they are able to get at night.

RELATED: TV Is Still Master of the Affluent Household's Domain   

Researchers are piling onto the negative effects of lengthy television viewing among children. Recent reports show that extended TV watching can lead to obesity and high blood pressure, among other concerns.

Similar reports about computer usage have been issued, suggesting that it is the audiovisual stimulation that causes a reduction in sound sleep periods.

More than 1,800 children between the ages of six months to just under eight years old were studied, and the children were selected because their mothers are involved in a project called Project Viva, a long-term study of factors during pregnancy and health indicators for the first few years of the child’s life. The mothers filled out the questionnaires about the child’s TV viewing habits.

Each additional hour of TV viewing per day corresponded to seven minutes less sleep per night, although the effect is greater on boys than on girls. Among children ages four through seven, sleeping in a room with a TV resulted in 30 minutes less sleep at night. In terms of in-room TVs, the effects seemed greater among minority children.

Sufficient sleep is considered a key ingredient in the development of behavior learning ability and memory among children, which adds to the significance of the study, researchers said.



About the Author

Kent McDill

Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.

In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.

McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.

McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy  Buffett and all things Disney.