Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
There’s a cute 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 for many of my young patients who struggle to get a good night’s sleep, the parody is unfortunately too close to reality.
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.
Many children and teens even sleep with their cell phones tucked under their pillows. 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. I advise them to keep the phones out of the bedrooms.
I know teens like to use their phones as clocks and alarms, but I discourage that because even a glowing alarm clock can keep you awake if you keep waking up to check the time.
Glowing screens can cause problems for younger children, too. I have seen toddlers whose parents say they can’t go to sleep or stay asleep without a television playing in the background.
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.
Many factors contributing to teens and children not getting a good night’s sleep. Parents can help by 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.
We say that a bedroom needs to be boring, the place you sleep and don’t do anything else. The ideal bedroom for sleep is cool, quiet and dark. For other tips on helping teens and children get a good night’s sleep, I recommend this advice from the National Sleep Foundation: