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:

http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/teens-and-sleep

6 comments

  • One of the ways I promote a good night sleep is to make sure that dinner is served and ate no later than 6:30 and make sure that bedtime routine starts at 7:30 so my kids are in bed and falling asleep by 8:00. The kids getting a good night sleep is essential for us to have a good tomorrow.

  • Scot Vanden Heuvel

    My kids are 6 and 3, they do not have a TV, or any kind of screen available to them. The 3 year old gets the radio (tuned to 102.5) at a reasonable sound level. The only light is from their glow in the dark alarm clocks and the light in the bathroom. Once we got over the “you need to sleep on your own stage” that every child goes through….. haven’t had a bad night since. Growing up I remember playing video games to very late hours, and I also remember replaying those games in my head as I tried to sleep. I had many restless nights in my teens/20’s. I will not make that same mistake with my children.

  • Being afraid of the dark, my daughter needs to have a small amount of light come through the windows from the lights outside. She still had some trouble falling asleep, but as soon as Grandma came and decided to sleep with her, she’s had no trouble sleeping at night.

  • We follow the same bed time routine every night. The only thing that glows in rooms are night lights.

  • We settle in with a book in dim light to settle them. We have a black-out shade in their room and lights are turned off when they go to bed (not even a night light). No electronics allowed in their room.

  • My tidbit of advice: limit liquids after 7pm and make sure using the bathroom is the last thing they do before they drift off. Most of our family’s sleep disruptions appeared to come from getting up to use the bathroom…so we worked on this habit…and life is now good. 🙂