Electronics are sleep stealers, says Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., associate director of the Sleep Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. A whopping 40 percent of school-age children and 20 percent of preschoolers have TVs in the bedroom. "Get them out," says Mindell. “And take out the computers, Game Boys, and cell phones as well.”
A recent study in Germany of 11 healthy boys ages 12 to 14 revealed that when the boys played an interactive computer game called Need for Speed for 60 minutes or watched an exciting DVD, such as a Harry Potter or Star Trek movie, two to three hours before bed, the heart-pounding action-adventure stories and games seriously affected their sleep. The boys took longer to fall asleep and spent less time in the stage of deep restorative sleep‘the kind necessary to build strong bodies and sharp minds.
What’s more, a study of 1,656 schoolchildren between the ages of 13 and 16 revealed that 62 percent of them use their cell phones after they’ve gone to bed. The researchers followed the kids for a year and found that those who used their cell phones after bedtime less than once a week doubled the chance they would feel tired the next day.
Those who used their cell phone after bedtime once a week tripled the chance they would feel tired’while those who used their cell phone more than once a week after bedtime were a whopping five times more likely to be very tired than their friends who did not.
The researchers also took a look at precisely when the teens were calling each other after they were supposed to be asleep. Use of the cell right after bedtime doubled the odds of being very tired the next day. Using it between midnight and 3:00 A.M. increased the odds by nearly 400 percent.
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