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Too much TV tied to less sleep in kids

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New research confirms the findings from earlier studies on television viewing and its impact on children’s sleep. According to a study published in the April 14 online Pediatrics, there is a consistent association between kids’ increased TV viewing and shorter sleep duration.

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital for Children and the Harvard School of Public Health followed more than 1,800 children ages 6 months to 8 years to determine the affect watching TV had on their sleep habits. The study analyzed information -- reported by the children’s mothers starting when the kids were 6 months old and continuing annually for the next seven years – about how much time each day the children were in a room when the TV was on, how much time older children watched television each day, whether children ages 4 to 7 slept with a TV in their room, and how much sleep on average their child got.

Findings showed that for each hour of television viewed, the children got seven fewer minutes of sleep each night. The effects appeared to be stronger in boys than in girls.

In addition, children who slept with a television in their room got an average of half an hour less sleep than children who did not sleep with a TV in their room. The study also showed that ethnic and racial minority children were more likely to sleep in a room with a television.

The research team noted in a news release that the results of their long-term study support previous short-term studies that found both TV viewing and sleeping in a room with a television decreased the amount of sleep time in kids. Because insufficient sleep is associated with poor mental and physical health, this study provides especially important confirmation of earlier findings.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under 2 years of age should not be exposed to TV and other forms of media entertainment. Tips for managing your family's television viewing can be found here.

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