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Lights Out, Phones Off: Screen Time Before Bed Hinders Kids’ Sleep

It’s almost time to tuck your little ones in and tell your older kids to turn off the PlayStation and get ready for bed. The older kids turn off the television, brush their teeth, then lay in bed catching up on their friend’s Snapchat stories. Your younger ones watch videos on a tablet or play just one more turn of the newest mobile game before they finally put their device down and attempt to sleep.

Is this modern bedtime ritual harming your child’s quality of sleep? It’s already been concluded that reading from screens before bed disrupts sleep (hence the iPhone’s recent addition of “Night Shift,”) but now, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers have found screen time before bed is worse for children than adults due to their continuing development.

The study found that because children’s eyes are still developing, they are more sensitive to the bright light of screens, disrupting their biological clock more so than adults. The light suppresses melatonin, delaying sleepiness. Authors of the study found that children who have accessible technology in their bedrooms not only delay their bedtimes but also report lower quality of sleep.

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These negative sleep effects not only leave children tired and exhausted but can also harm their academic performance and leave them vulnerable to health risks.

It might be hard at first, but limiting your children’s’ use of screen time before bed will benefit them in the long run. Give them some alternative bedtime routines and create a charging station outside of their rooms in a common area where they can be asked to leave their phones before turning in for the night.

The authors of the study recommend removing all forms of technology from children’s rooms to discourage use of it before sleep (computers, tablets, video games, etc.) and to instead encourage children to participate in calming activities before bed.

In replace of screens, children can read a book or journal about their day as an end of the night activity. Reading from a book will tire them quicker than reading from a screen and journaling will give them needed reflection about their day that was previously lost when playing mobile games or scanning Instagram before bed. Other activities kids can replace screen time with include coloring, puzzles, a family walk, or even a nighttime yoga routine. Check out our Parenting Pinterest board for more ideas. Your children may not be happy with this new screen time limit, but as with most acts of parenting, they will thank you later.

Don’t forget to implement the same “no screen time before bed” rule for the adults in your house. It will serve as a better example for your kids if everyone in the house nixes technology use before bed. Plus, if anyone needs a better night sleep, it’s Mom and Dad!

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Shelby Wagner - 1st Grade Teacher Fairmont Historic AnaheimTop Teacher & Skating Champion
Shelby “My favorite part of being a teacher is the children I get to teach.”
  • Is one of the head teachers for the Fountain Valley Artistic Skating Club, teaching regional and national champions. She also teaches beginner classes every Saturday morning.
  • Every year, her students are amazed to find that their teacher has a life outside of the classroom.
“I love feeling like I’m part of a family [at Fairmont].”
Keira Kamath - 5th Grade Fairmont Anaheim HillsScience & Tennis Superstar
keira “I like how there are so many different specialty classes at Fairmont Anaheim Hills, like art, music, PE, science lab, computer lab, and Spanish.”
  • She would like to be a professional tennis player when she grows up, or maybe a doctor.
  • Loves dance and plays the piano
  • Her favorite class is science “because you get to figure out stuff, and I like to do experiments.”
Nicholas Aghaian - 7th Grade Fairmont Historic AnaheimKicking His Way to Med School
nicolas“The teachers and the amount of support they provide to not only me, but to the whole entire community here at Fairmont is probably what I like most about attending Fairmont Historic Anaheim.”
  • He would like to be a professional soccer player, or a doctor specializing in the field of sports medicine.
  • Enjoys basketball, piano, and soccer pitch.
  • His favorite subject is math “because I like to be challenged, and math is full of challenges.”
Gianluca De Gregoris – 2nd Grade Fairmont North TustinDancing Toward Greatness
dancing"What I like most about Fairmont is that I get to learn and meet new friends.”
  • He wants to be a professional dancer when he grows up.
  • Is trained in ballet and ballroom dancing.
  • Loves writing and creating new stories.
Nicole Heyman - Kindergarten Teacher Fairmont Anaheim HillsLaying a Foundation for Lifelong Learning
Nicole "The best part about teaching at Fairmont is being able to work with a diverse group of students who are all incredibly talented. It is amazing to be able to challenge students at such a young age and watch these children grow throughout the year.”
  • Loves camping, reading, and traveling
  • Her students love learning random things about her – like the fact that when she was in kindergarten she wanted to be Spiderman when she grew up.
  • Her proudest moments are the times when a student on campus is excited to see her, oftentimes telling her that she’s “the best teacher in the world.” “I live for those moments.”
“I choose to teach at Fairmont because of the sense of community, as well as the drive for our students to succeed.”
DJ Clovis - Music Teacher Fairmont North TustinRunning to the Rhythm
DJ Clovis “I get to work with amazing staff, faculty, parents, and most importantly, students!”
  • Teaches music to all grades — from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade
  • Coaches (or has coached) football, basketball, and Run Club
  • Plays bass trombone
  • NJHS Conflict Resolution Coach
  • He has run 15 marathons and 4 ultra marathons.
“The best part of teaching at Fairmont is the autonomy — being able to create a program that fits all of my students. At Fairmont North Tustin, I get to help with a lot of different activities.”