By Morgen Henderson

It’s no secret that technology is helping us accomplish things we never thought were possible. Aside from all the benefits it gives us on a day to day basis, it can also be a great tool to keep children both engaged and occupied. In fact, children are spending more time looking at screens and using technology than ever before. By now, you’re probably all too familiar with the idea of setting solid guidelines for internet safety, but did you know that technology can affect the way your child sleeps, even after they turn off the tablet?

The Bedroom is for Sleeping 

The statement might seem obvious, but oftentimes we become so used to our technologically enhanced lifestyles that we don’t even realize how much we depend on it, even if it begins to negatively impact our daily lives. The use of technology can start to take a physical toll on us, particularly when it starts to affect our rest. It can start to feel like a hard habit to break, so try to cut down their exposure time and stop the problem before it even starts.

Set Daily Limits 

Getting too much screen time has been linked to children getting less sleep and disrupted sleep patterns. So, even when they do sleep, it isn’t going to be as beneficial to their growth and brain development. Technology can easily eat away at the time we should be using to rest. It’s easy to fall into the “just one more” trap with technology. One more episode, one more video, one more round of a game. So it’s no surprise that being technologically engaged before bed leads to later bedtimes, which in turn can cause them to feel more sluggish the following day. Do your child a favor and set up a clear cut-off time and allow them to catch the Z’s they deserve. But limited exposure doesn’t just have to be a bedtime thing. Cut back on screen time throughout the day. Many devices even come equipped with applications that automatically set alerts and limits on how much time you can spend on certain apps.  Incorporate healthier habits like puzzles, exercise, or even some good old-fashioned books.

Block Out the Blue 

In order to secure a good night’s sleep, your body needs to produce a hormone called melatonin. Studies have shown that blue light emitted from devices such as TVs, cell phones, and tablets can keep your body from producing the melatonin it needs in order to secure a good night’s rest. Not only can this make it harder to fall asleep, but it can affect the quality of your child’s sleep, too. In fact, sometimes dimming the light isn’t enough to prevent the effects of blue light. Notifications and other stimulation can cause the devices to turn back on, which can wake your child up throughout the night and harm the quality of their sleep, which is vital to their brain’s development. The best thing you can do for your child is to limit exposure. Take “lights out” up a notch, and keep your children off of their devices for least an hour or two before bedtime.

Set the Example 

Children learn by example, and you’re their most important role model. Your habits when it comes to technology will become theirs. Instead of winding down at night with TV, read a book with your child. Avoid computer work and emails late and night, and instead, teach them about the importance of proper relaxation techniques like meditation or keeping a consistent schedule. You don’t need to shun your devices altogether, but doing little things like limiting screen time and charging devices out of the bedroom are just a few small steps to take towards better sleep and healthier brain development.

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