Sleep is an essential activity during childhood to prevent problems such as attention deficit and learning difficulties, but not all parents pay attention to this when thinking about their children. Little Anna is an example of this. The six-year-old girl returns from school in the late afternoon and focuses on her tablet, which she got from her mother, Rebecca, at the age of four. “She usually stays on the internet until eleven o’clock at night and then sleeps. I stay calm, because my daughter does not need to wake up early and she is very smart”, she reports.
However, the experts in Paediatrics explain that this habit cannot be naturalized by the family. According to experts, it is not sleeping late that children will wake up later. When she goes to bed very tired, it is likely that she will not have a peaceful sleep and wake up before the hours needed to grow and develop. This is because the shortest rest time can damage mitochondria – small energy producers for the body. Without them, the body gains fatigue and cell function decreases. In addition, interrupting sleep causes the loss of important neurons to maintain the wake cycle, which ensures a healthy alternation between the periods that the person spends awake and sleeping.
As a consequence, the paediatrician says that these biological changes can cause irritability, poor school performance and behaviour problems among children.
‘Parents should create routine with children’
Experts warn that a problem for children’s sleep is the frequent use of electronics. The light emitted by the screen affects the brain’s perception of being day or night. According to them, the blue luminosity of these items inhibits the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that stimulates sleep.
Such cases become even more worrying when looking at the statistics. Data from the Regional Centre for Studies for the Development of the Information Society (Cetic) warn that 57% of internet users between nine and ten years of age accessed the network more than once a day, in 2017.
The latest survey by the Internet Steering Committee, in 2015, warns that 82% of children and adolescents use their cell phones to access the web.
To mitigate this behaviour revealed in the research, the doctor advises those responsible to create a routine for the little ones and remove the electronics from their hands an hour before putting them to sleep. Adding to the solution, experts recommend parents to make use of screen time limits provided by digital apps like FamilyTime App. The app lets parents schedule a remote lock on kids’ devices along with managing their consumption. If you wish to see how does the app work, give it a try for free. You can get the trial version of this app from the app store on your phone.
In addition to using this app, know that children like to be awake and present in their parents’ routine. Creating a pre-sleep ritual can help make this moment [of taking them to bed] more peaceful and well accepted. I suggest starting with a relaxing bath, followed by tea and serene stories and music.
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