A new study found significant associations between bedtime access to and use of media devices and inadequate sleep quantity, poor sleep quality, and excessive daytime sleepiness for those aged 6–19 years.

The study, conducted by Cardiff University School of Medicine (Wales) researchers, used 12 literature databases to identify 20 observational studies on portable screen-based media devices between January 1, 2011 and June 15, 2015. Twenty cross-sectional studies were assessed including a total of 125,198 children, and two reviewers independently extracted data. 

In 7 studies, 45.4% of children with bedtime media device use exhibited inadequate sleep quantity compared to 31.5% of children who did not have access to a device (pooled odds ratio [OR] 2.17, 95% CI, 1.42–3.32; P<0.001). Fifty-two percent of children with bedtime device use had poor sleep quality compared to 34.4% of those with no access to a device, according to 5 studies (pooled OR 1.14–1.88; P=0.003). 

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Increased odds of excessive daytime sleepiness was also linked to children who had access to a bedtime media device. From 3 studies that investigated daytime sleepiness, the authors found the prevalence to be 13.2% in children with access to a media device and 4.9% in those without access to a device (pooled OR 2.27; 95% CI, 1.54–3.35; P<0.001).

Sleep disturbance in childhood is known to lead to adverse physical and mental health consequences including poor diet, sedative behavior, obesity, reduced immunity, stunted growth and mental health issues.

The authors concluded that an integrated approach among teachers, healthcare professionals, and parents is required to minimize device access at bedtime. They also called for future research to evaluate the influence of the devices on sleep hygiene and outcomes.

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