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Help Kids Say "Goodnight iPad" For Better Sleep

American Family Children's Hospital Wisconsin Sleep: Girl in bedMadison, Wisconsin - The new parody children's book "Goodnight iPad" begins like this: In the bright buzzing room, there was a IPad, and a kid playing Doom, and a screensaver of a bird launching over the moon...

Parents in the know will get a chuckle out of the 21st century homage to the classic children's book, Goodnight Moon. But children's sleep expert Dr. Cami Matthews says the book reflects all too well the reality of her young patients who struggle to get a good night's sleep.

Their bedrooms are lit with the glowing screens of televisions, cell phones, and computers of all types, allowing them instant connection with a world of Facebook friends. All of these readily available technologies tempt them to stay awake, rather than fall asleep.

Many children and teens even sleep with their cell phones tucked under their pillows.

"I see many factors contributing to teens not getting a good night's sleep," says Matthews, who practices at Wisconsin Sleep and American Family Children's Hospital. "They have their cell phones charging in their bedrooms and there are a lot of texts being sent and received at 2am, 3am and even 4am."

So while teenagers may be in bed, their sleep can be fragmented by frequent awakenings from these interruptions. The glowing screens can cause problems for younger children, too.

"I have toddlers whose parents say they can't go to sleep or stay asleep without a television playing in the background," Matthews says.

One problem with all that light and activity is that it can suppress the production of melatonin, a natural hormone that makes us sleepy and is produced in the brain in response to darkness. If it never gets dark, the brain doesn't make melatonin and natural sleepiness doesn't arrive.

"Even a glowing alarm clock can keep you awake if you keep waking up to check the time," Matthews says. "I know kids like to use their phones as clocks and alarms, but I discourage that."

Instead, she'd like parents to think about creating the peaceful bedroom that existed back when Margaret Wise Brown wrote the original Goodnight Moon in 1947. Then, the child's room actually got dark when the light went off, and the toys were all of the inanimate variety that didn't glow, beep or chirp.

"A bedroom needs to be boring, the place you sleep and don't do anything else," Matthews tells her patients and their parents. "The ideal bedroom for sleep is cool, quiet and dark."

From Wisconsin Sleep: Sleep Information and Resources


Date Published: 04/09/2012

News tag(s):  cami kb matthews