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Health & Baby

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Turn Off the TV to Set Baby's Sleep Schedule?

TV Viewing Linked to Irregular Bedtimes, Naptimes for Infants and Toddlers

TV Study continued...

About a third of the kids had varied naptimes. A little more than a quarter had irregular bedtimes.

The researchers weighed other factors including mother's health, education level, and social support. They concluded that "TV viewing among infants and toddlers is associated with irregular sleep schedules" for kids' bedtimes and naptimes.

Many theories exist as to how television viewing might affect sleep. It may be that the bright lights of the television before sleep affects the sleep-wake cycle, they write. They add that children may watch programs that are developmentally inappropriate for their age, some of which have been shown to have a negative impact on their behavior, and this may also inhibit the relaxation necessary of sleep induction. But this has not been demonstrated.

The study didn't cover kids' sleep quality, sleep quantity, or sleep problems.

Tube Time

How much TV were the kids watching? That depended on their age.

The older they were, the more time they spent in front of a TV screen. Daily viewing averages for each age group were:

  • Less than 1 year: 0.9 hours
  • 1 to 2 years: 1.6 hours
  • 2 to 3 years: 2.3 hours

The researchers show that the number of hours of television watching per day was associated with both varied naptimes and varied bedtimes.

These findings are potentially important, they write, because a routine sleep schedule is a critical component of ensuring good sleep.

Other Trends

The researchers also noted a few other patterns.

Irregular naptimes were more common among the kids of unmarried parents and those noting a lack of social support.

The kids of parents with at least a high school education were more likely to have regular bedtimes.

Meal schedules also mattered. Kids with varied meal times were more likely to have irregular bedtimes and naptimes.

That's "interesting," write the researchers. But it doesn't change their results or support for little to no TV time before a child's second birthday.

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