A new study from King’s College London has found that children’s use of electronic devices close to bedtime can reduce their chances of a good night’s sleep. Researchers examined 20 existing studies encompassing 125,000 children between the ages of 6 and 19. They found that youngsters using a device within 90 minutes of falling asleep had an increased likelihood of poor and inadequate sleep quality and excessive daytime sleepiness.
Study author Ben Carter, Ph.D., says, “Sleep is an often undervalued, but important part of children’s development, with a regular lack of sleep causing a variety of health problems.” These can include obesity, sedentary lifestyle, reduced immune function and poor diet. Poor food choices and excessive eating can start young, as illustrated in a study from Colorado University, in Boulder, which found a link between sleep deprivation and poor diet choices in preschool children.
The Colorado study followed five girls and five boys, ages 3 and 4, that were regular afternoon nappers. They were deprived of their naps for one day, during which their food and beverage consumption was monitored and compared with their choices on a day when their sleep routine remained intact. During the sleep-deprived day, the children ate 20 percent more calories than usual and their diet consisted of 25 percent more sugar and 26 percent more carbohydrates.