Child sleep while mom is on the computer.

Early Childhood Sleep Deprivation May Lead to ADHD

blog

Child sleep while mom is on the computer.The report from the Kaiser Family Foundation goes on to discuss other issues related to the media and sleep:

“Sleep problems in middle childhood tend to be persistent. This fact raises the question as to what, if any, are the long-term effects of media use on children’s sleep. It may be, for example, that there is a critical window early on in which good sleep habits are established.

One prominent sleep researcher has argued that sleep problems in early childhood may have adverse developmental impacts that are not fully observable until years later. This researcher speculates that early sleep deprivation in children is part of the cause of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

If there is any value to these speculations, media use that interferes with the establishment of good sleep habits may have a persistent effect even if the media use itself is corrected. Long-term effects of media use on other developmental outcomes have been identified” in other research analyses. It is plausible that early media use might have a similar long term impact on sleep.

Exposure to media around children’s bedtimes often starts at a young age. At this age, the content, timing, and duration of media use should be controlled by the parent.

“A question arises, however, as to whether this media use creates an association with bedtime that is difficult to break as children get older. Such an association could present a problem if children develop an interest in less calming content as they get older, or if they begin to resist or circumvent parental rules about the timing and duration of bedtime media use.”

While such issues can affect children as young as in grade-school, they become particularly important as children enter the years of adolescence, “both because teenagers are more interested than younger children in violent and exciting media use, and because teenagers insist on independence from parental guidance.”

Some parents may notice that their teens tend to prefer extremely late bedtimes. This trend is fueled by games, movies and caffeine, despite obvious symptoms of sleepiness during the day.

“It is possible that hidden in the averages that characterize the formal research on media and sleep there are some children and teenagers who have dysfunctional levels or times of media use.”

And the LORD gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand. Joshua 21:44 (KJV)

Author

Gary L. Hopkins, MD, DrPH, MPH is currently an associate research professor at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan where he is also associate director of the Institute for Prevention of Addictions, Director of the Center for Prevention Research and Director of the Center for Media Impact Research.