How screen time and digital technology use affects sleep
Your child needs enough good-quality sleep so they can play, learn and concentrate during the day.
Screen time and digital technology use can affect how quickly your child falls asleep and how long your child sleeps. This happens for several reasons:
- Screen time in the hour before bed can stimulate your child.
- Blue light from televisions, computer screens, phones and tablets might suppress melatonin levels and delay sleepiness.
- Your child might be tempted to stay up late to chat to friends or play games.
- Your child might be disturbed in the night by notifications, messages or calls.
Reducing the effects of screen time and digital technology use on sleep
Here are ways you can reduce the negative effects of screen time on your child’s sleep:
- Avoid digital technology use in the hour before bedtime. This includes mobile phones, tablets, computer screens and TV. Encourage reading or quiet play instead.
- Limit and monitor violent content at any time of day. This can affect sleep regardless of the time and length of use.
- Encourage your child to connect with friends during the day rather than late in the evening.
- Encourage your child to replace daytime screen time with outdoor physical activity or play. This can improve sleep at night.
- Have a family rule that mobile phones and other devices are left in a family room overnight.
How much sleep do children need?
If you’re concerned about how much sleep your child is getting, it can help to know that children need less sleep as they get older, but teenagers still need more sleep than adults:
- Preschooler sleep needs: children aged 3-5 years need 10-13 hours of sleep a night.
- School-age and pre-teen sleep needs: children aged 5-11 years need 9-11 hours of sleep a night.
- Teenage sleep needs: teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep a night.
Get more ideas in our articles and illustrated guides: How to sleep better: 10 tips for children and teenagers, Sleep relaxation for children: in pictures and Better sleep for pre-teens and teenagers: in pictures.