Children who use their phones at bedtime are twice as likely to have a disrupted night’s sleep, according to a new study.
Researchers found that the mere presence of mobiles and tablets in the bedroom, even when they’re not in use, can also lead to poorer sleep.
“One potential reason for this is that the ‘always on’ nature of social media and instant messaging means children are continuously engaged with devices in their environment, even when they are not actively using them,” a spokesperson explained.
King’s College London researchers reviewed 20 studies involving more than 125,000 children aged 6-19, and classified bedtime as within 90 mins of sleep.
Children who engage with a device at bedtime are more likely to have too little sleep, poor quality sleep and be excessively sleepy the next day, the study revealed.
Screens can interrupt sleep time, psychologically stimulate the brain, and affect sleep cycles, physiology and alertness.
Poor sleep in childhood can lead to a number of health problems, including obesity, reduced immune function and stunted growth.
It’s also been linked to mental health issues.
Dr Ben Carter from King’s College London, said: ‘With the ever growing popularity of portable media devices and their use in schools as a replacement for textbooks, the problem of poor sleep amongst children is likely to get worse.
“Our findings suggest that an integrated approach involving parents, teachers, and healthcare professionals is necessary to reduce access to these devices and encourage good sleeping habits near bedtime.”
The study was published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.