The impact of digital distractions on on sleep is indisputable: Everyone from scientists to psychologists agrees that time on devices directly impacts not just the amount of sleep kids (and adults!) are getting, but also the quality of that sleep. Why? Electronic devices emit blue light, which interrupts production melatonin, the hormone required for sleep. And now for the worse news: Tweens and teens are especially attached to their iPhones at night. Why? The most commonly sited reason is that they want to be their for their friends in case they’re needed in the middle of the night.
A 2014 study from Thomas Jefferson University neuroscientist George Brainard revealed that blue light emitted from electronic devices used just before caused people to take longer to fall asleep, experience less REM sleep, and experience more alertness just before bed.
In the morning, they took longer to wake up and were more tired than those who just read from a normal book before bed.
It’s also important to consider that kids, especially teens, need more sleep than adults to function.
According to the Sleep Foundation, kids 6-13 need between 9-11 hours of sleep, while teens aged 13-17 need between 8-10 hours of sleep. Older adults can get away with 6 or 7 hours per night.
Notifications going off in the middle of the night are not only waking your kids up, but when they check the phone they get exposed to the blue light and any hope for a sound sleep vanishes.
That’s why we put together these 5 easy things you can do to combat digital device induced sleep deprivation.
Get Light Smart
Have a kid who insists on screen time in bed? Have them do it with the lights on. Studies show that screen time before lights go out has far less impact on academic performance the next day. Why? The effects of bluelight are intensified in a darkened environment, according to a study from Rutgers University
Another interesting finding from that same study suggests that texting is the worst activity you can partake in just before bed — worse than social media scrolling or even FaceTime.
So if your kids insist on keeping their device with them late into the night, make sure the lights stay on and keep them off of instant messaging / texting.
Put on the Red Light
If kids insist on reading in bed from a device, reading a book with a red bulb light source won’t interrupt melatonin production or impact sleep.
So wait, how do we get an iPhone to suddenly change the color it emits from the screen?
Have no fear! There is an app for that.
A software company called F.lux has apps for iOS and Mac OS as well as Android that matches the brightness and color of your screen light to match the time of day — warm at night and bright like the sun during the day.
At night it changes your screen to not emit blue light.
Check out a live demo at the f.lux website to see your screen turn from a normal screen to a f.lux optimized screen.
It really does make a huge difference — so if the device is literally glued to your kids’ hands, get them F.lux.
Less is More
Teens who used two to three devices each day were more likely to sleep for less than five hours when compared to those who used just one gadget, according to Uni Research Health in Norway.
Another key finding in the study is that if teens crossed the four-hour threshold on screen time throughout the day, they were 49% more likely to take more than an hour to fall asleep at night.
The more devices available, the more screen-time — so think about limiting the amount of devices your children are using on a daily basis.
If your kids use a laptop for school work during the week, encourage your child to only use their laptop during the week and allow them to use the iPad on the weekend when they aren’t using their laptop for school.
Off Means Off
Make sure your child’s digital devices are off at night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function best. One study found that only 15% reported sleeping 8 1/2 hours on school nights.
We might not want to admit it, but our kids are facing a sleep crisis exacerbated by the use of devices late at night.
If you take these 5 steps, you can minimize the negative impact of the device in the bedroom late at night.
If you want to totally eliminate the problem, consider checking out our App Sleeper app.
The Forcefield App Sleeper allows you to set your kid’s devices on a schedule to turn off at night, during homework, or any other time you want.
Use Forcefield’s App Sleeper on a schedule to set it and forget it.