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Too much technology late at night disturbs sleep schedule for children

Sunday, August 15, 2010 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: children, sleep, health news

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(NaturalNews) Research presented at SLEEP 2010, the 24th Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, has revealed that children who use technology late at night are more prone to develop cognitive problems than children who have regular sleeping patterns that do not involve staying up late on their computers and cell phones.

"Any factor that deteriorates the quality or quantity of sleep will lead to difficulty with school performance and behavior problems," explained William Kohler, MD, medical director at the Florida Sleep Institute, in a recent report on the findings. "When children stay up late at night texting in bed or playing computer games, they are increasing their risk for neurocognitive problems."

The research team evaluated 8,000 students based on their reading, language and math skills, and found that children with parents who regulate bedtimes and enforce routine sleeping patterns score better on tests than children without these restrictions.

Researchers say that regular sleeping patterns -- even on the weekends -- are crucial as well because they help to maintain the brain's circadian clock and keep the body functioning well during the day, every day. Any disruption to this pattern, even if it does not involve technology, can be harmful to cognitive function.

Experts recommend that five-year old children get about 11 hours of sleep a night, while nine-year olds need about ten. Fourteen-year old will do well with about nine hours of sleep a night.

Kohler recommends limiting high-energy activities to earlier in the evening, and doing regular pre-sleep activities like reading and taking a bath, which will help children to get into a sleeping mode.

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