Teacher: You’re looking really tired today…everything okay?
Student: Yes, I’m tired alright! My Mom let me stay up late to watch a movie, and then I couldn’t fall asleep.
Student: My Dad put a movie on for me so I could fall asleep…but I just watched the whole thing!
Student: I stayed up playing video games all night and my parents didn’t even know!
How many times have you had a similar conversation with students in your classroom? For me, too many to remember! A quick survey in my 2/3 classroom about ‘How many of you have some kind of technology in your own room and use it before you go to sleep or to fall asleep?’ The results were 16 out of 20 students who had a television, DVD player, or a personal/family tablet in their bedroom with them before or during bedtime. So why should it matter to educators and what can we do to support our students’ understanding of the negative impact of technology on their sleep health?
It is well known that sleep is a basic and necessary human need for our physical and mental health as well as brain development. It is also becoming well documented that there has been a decrease in sleep time over the past 50 years, which is correlated to the increase in screen time, computers, television, cell phones, tablets, in many of our students’ homes (Chang, A., 2014). This knowledge has led to a just released sleep guideline for children age 4 months to 18 years old from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. This panel of experts has suggested the importance of publically recommending appropriate sleep times since there has been an increasing trend of lack of sleep in children and adolescents and that most parents are not educated in knowing the proper amount of sleep that children should be getting. Failing to get the proper amount of sleep is associated with an increased risk of hypertension, depression, obesity and injuries. (Paruthi, 2016).
With access and availability to all different types of technology, children and teens are able to extend their screen time beyond bedtime hours when they have technology in their bedroom. In the Kaiser Foundation study, it was reported that an average of 7.5 hours for children and 9.0 hours for teens were spent on technology per day (da Silva, 2015). Without parent monitoring, children and adolescents are more likely to overuse the technology and not get the required amount of sleep. When screen time is extended close to bedtime or used to ‘unwind’ the light emitted from the devices can upset the body’s natural circadian rhythm, increasing alertness and suppressing the hormone melatonin, which regulates our sleep-wake cycle. In Chang’s study, they found that individuals who read an LE-eBook took longer to fall asleep and had reduced evening sleepiness, reduced melatonin secretion, later timing of their circadian clock and reduced next-morning alertness than those participants who read a printed book before going to sleep. These results have worthy implications for understanding the negative impact of such technologies on sleep, performance, health and safety to our students in our classrooms.
A Balance of Technology Use is Key to Getting a Better Sleep
♣ Parents can adjust the evening routine by putting the technology to ‘bed’ prior to their child’s bedtime routine allowing them to wind down by taking a bath, reading or telling a story.
♣ No technology in the bedroom reinforces the idea that their bed is for sleeping not for playing video games or watching television. If there is technology in the room, monitor with controlled parental settings to ensure there is no access.
♣ Give alternative options to technology and have ‘unplugged’ days to play board games similar to those offered through technology
♣ Outdoor play and exercise is a great way to have a restful sleep…and that goes for adults too!
♣ Teachers do not have control over how much screen time their students have after school hours, however, they can share and discuss the importance of sleep with their students during Physical Education, Health, and Media Literacy lessons.
♣ Sharing your own and your children’s bedtime routine with your students, to model positive examples for them to follow and share with their family.
♣ Just as we pass along important information about curriculum content areas to our students’ family, sharing research about the impact of sleep deprivation and suggestions of alternative bedtime routines could be very helpful to parents during conferences and special school events.
♣ Use technology in the classroom with the intention to enhance and support learning not as a substitute for teaching so that students become responsible users and creators.
♣ Share unplugged math and literacy learning activities related to the curriculum content to play at school and home.
- Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology 24 Hour Movement Guidelines
- Participaction Are Canadian Kids to Tired to Move
- Zone in Fact Sheet~ Impact of Technology
Chang, A., Aeschbach, D., Duffy, J. F., & Czeisler, C. A. (2014). Evening use of light-emitting eReaders negatively affects sleep, circadian timing, and next-morning alertness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 112(4), 1232-1237. doi:10.1073/pnas.1418490112
Da Silva, J. (2010). Children and electronic media: How much is too much? Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/about/newsletter/2015/06/electronic-media.aspx
Paruthi, S., Brooks, L. J., D’ambrosio, C., Hall, W. A., Kotagal, S., Lloyd, R. M., Wise, M. S. (2016). Recommended Amount of Sleep for Pediatric Populations: A Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine JCSM, 12(06), 785-786. doi:10.5664/jcsm.5866
Rowan, C. (2016, January 10). Moving to Learn. Retrieved from http://movingtolearn.ca/2016/balanced- technology-management-new-paradigm-shift- toward-managing-balance-between-technology-and-healthy-activities
Roussy, K. (2016). Experts unveil new sleep guidelines for children. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/children-sleep-guidelines-infants-teenagers-1.3633188