Researchers at Flinders University of Australia found that "prolonged gaming" before bed is disruptive to getting a good night's sleep.
Several consequences follow the use of electronic devices before bed:
- Children stay up longer because they want to beat the next level of play.
- They experience significant sleep disruptions caused by frequent awakenings throughout the night.
- According to the Flinders researchers, "Sleep is made up of many different stages and the REM sleep, also known as the dreaming sleep, was reduced by 12 minutes among the children who played [video games] for over two hours."
- Children who play video games before bed take longer to fall asleep than children who read or go directly to bed. This can cause an unhealthy sleep deficit.
- Children develop a life-long love of reading because they generally pick literature that is recreational rather than required for pre-bedtime reading.
- Children increase their vocabulary as they increase their ability to read more difficult books.
- Many children enjoy having a story read to them by parents and other caregivers, thereby strengthening the family bond.
- A 2009 study from researchers at the University of Sussex showed that six minutes of reading reduces stress by 68 percent (more relaxing than music, they found), thus clearing the mind and readying the body for sleep.
What is YOUR child doing before bed? Encourage him or her to read for at least fifteen minutes before turning out the light. And make sure the electronic device is significantly out of reach, perhaps in an entirely different room.