This healthy post was provided by The Chester County Hospital and Health System. Visit us online to learn more about the CHOP Care Network.
In the aftermath of the holiday season, it is very likely your child received a new gadget or two with which to become completely consumed. Local pediatrician, Dr. Gregory Lawton, a member of the Medical Staff at The Chester County Hospital, guest wrote this post to stress the importance of parents making sure their children are still getting a good night’s sleep, despite the bings, bells and buzzes that can keep them up too late at night.
I am going to go out on a limb and state three “facts” about sleep and its relative importance for our children’s health, learning and well-being.
- No one ever improved their grades by putting off sleep to play video games.
- No one ever performed better at their sport by staving off sleep to update their status or text their friends.
- No one on an airplane would feel comfortable if they knew that the pilot had only gotten three hours of sleep the night before because he had been watching the Godfather trilogy.
Up until the preschool period, parents control the sleep schedule for their children. Then, according to surveys, one-third of parents do something that complicates their child’s sleep patterns. They put a television in their child’s room. They permit the Xbox to encroach on their child’s sleep environment. They acquiesce to a smartphone next to the bed “as an alarm clock.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nearly 7 out of 10 kids/teenagers have a television in their room. The numbers are even higher if you consider other electronic gadgets. There are plenty of studies that cite a relationship between the presence of a television in the room and hours of television watched with sleep and academic troubles. So, I won’t bore you with the details.
Rather, when I am speaking with parents, one-on-one in the examination room, I appeal to their common (and hopefully better) sense.
“Tell me, how does having a television in their room improve their school work?”
“Are they better at their sport because they can put off sleep in favor of playing a computer game or updating their Facebook account”?
The answers, of course, are no. But are the questions too simple? After all, eating ice cream in moderation doesn’t help with math grades or speed on the soccer field either, but I don’t rail against Moosetracks.
My questions are meant to prompt thoughts about priorities and goals. If we all know that sleep is so important, why are we so inclined to disregard that which we know for that which is convenient or easy?
As parents, we need to be good models of healthy behavior to our children as well as provide guidance and parameters on what is and is not healthy for our children. My advice (and my kids will readily acknowledge that this is true in the draconian Lawton home) is to keep all electronics out of a child’s bedroom. Sleep is paramount to success, either in the classroom or on the field.
Take a stand, be the parent, and just say no.
Dr. Gregory Lawton is a pediatrician at CHOPCare West Chester. He writes for Medscape at A Musing Pediatrician.
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