According to a new study, exposure to screens can affect a baby’s sleeping habits and duration of sleep. Spending more time in front of screens is associated with weight gain, unhealthy eating, and stress, but its effects on babies are relatively new to know.
The on-going pandemic and lockdowns have restricted people to their houses and they are spending more time in front of screens. Whether it is work, talking to friends, or watching movies, screens are everywhere. This increased exposure to screen has affected eye-sight, postures, and weight, and spending more time in front of screens before or during sleeping time can even disturb the sleep cycle.
Although these effects were understood for adults this is the first-ever study which has highlighted the dangers of exposure to screens for babies. The complete findings of this study are published in the journal “Sleep.”
This new study says that even a three-month-old baby is highly vulnerable to get affected by touchscreens. All screens can change their sleeping and waking up time, duration, and quality of life. with age, this connection becomes more prominent when the child becomes fascinated with screens and tries to play with them.
This study was conducted by the research team from Flinders University and a baby monitoring device making company ‘Nanit’. This is the first study that has checked the factor affecting a baby’s sleep especially with reference to modern technology.
The researchers tried Nanit’s technology to check and obtain data for 14,000 days on more than 1000 babies. They reached the following conclusion.
The exposure to the screens during the day increases the risk of disturbed sleep at night in infants. On average, they lose nearly 1 minute of sleep for every minute spent on using a digital screen. This use of screens also affected the quality of their sleep and disturbed sleep during the night.
If the infants are subjected to TV screens, it can change their average sleeping cycle and duration. The three months old babies who spent at least 30 minutes in front of TV screens in the day were reported to sleep 20 to 22 minutes less than their average sleep time in one day.
Dr. Michal Kahn is a post-doctoral fellow at Flinders University. He is the lead author of this study who emphasizes on the use of screens and their potential role in decreasing sleep duration and quality.
According to Dr. Kahn, there are still many things that are unexplained to understand this link between screen habits and sleeping. This study is one of the first steps towards establishing this relation and to explain how the habits affect night routine may need more extensive studies.
He also says that at this point establishing a connection is enough to pay attention to this otherwise ignored area. The effects of usage of screens and sleeping habits may be different in different races, geographical regions, and age groups.
On the brighter side, controlling these factors can ensure a baby to enjoy the restful sleep that he needs. Parents should pay attention to the time that their kids are spending in front of screens. Controlling this time can determine better sleeping habits in these children.