Children watching nighttime television suffer sleep disruption: study

The survey of 617 children ages 3 to 5 found that watching prime-time programming is disruptive to kids' sleep patterns.

Violent nighttime TV will do more to disrupt a child's sleep than the boogeyman could ever dream of, a new study shows.

The survey of 617 children ages 3 to 5 revealed sleep problems are more common among those who watch TV after 7 p.m.

The situation was made worse if the child was allowed to watch violent programming.

By contrast, children allowed to watch non-violent programming during the day did not experience the same kind of trouble sleeping.

"Some kids really pick up that stuff. They don't have violent parents, but they follow what they see," said Marlene Kelly, a mother of seven from Flatbush.

Laura Wheeler, a mother of two from the Upper West Side, agreed.

"Kids process everything at night," she said. "Sometimes I let my kids watch a late night movie, and they do get riled up. It stimulates them."

Dr. Michelle Garrison, who authored the study, said she found that one in four pre-schoolers has a TV in the bedroom because many families mistakenly believe it will help their kids sleep.

The results of the government-funded survey appeared Monday on the website of the journal Pediatrics.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of 2 not watch television at
all, and that children over that age be limited to two hours or less a day.

They also suggest that parents not let their kids have TVs in their bedrooms.

Of the children surveyed, 112 - or nearly one in five - had trouble sleeping most days of the week.

Almost 100 kids averaged more than a half-hour of nighttime television, and 60 children watched an hour or more of violent programming.

About 28% of the kids watching nighttime TV had trouble sleeping compared to just 19% of kids who did not watch nighttime TV.

And 37% of children watching violent TV had difficulty with sleep compared with just 19% of those who did not watch violent TV.

The study relied on parents' reports of their childrens' viewing habits and could not determine if television was the sole cause of poor sleep.

By AP_News 06/27/2011 21:27:00

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