I like to watch TV to relax after work. I also like to spend time with my 5-year-old son, so he watches with me. But we've been having problems getting him to bed, and he's waking up in the middle of the night. Does TV help my son relax, or is it doing the opposite?
Kyle, it's good that you noticed a possible connection between your son's television viewing and his sleep problems. Although some adults and children may find television relaxing, it more commonly has the opposite effect.
In fact, a recent study from Finland found that children who watched more television had significantly more sleep problems. The researchers studied approximately 300 5- and 6-year old children and asked their parents about the children's TV viewing and sleep habits. They found that the more hours of television the children watched, the more likely they were to have sleep problems and spend less time sleeping.
This was especially true when the children watched TV in the evening, and when they watched police dramas, news and adult-oriented movies. The researchers recommended that parents limit the amount of TV children watch to one to two hours a day, and also limit their exposure to evening TV and adult-oriented shows.
It's great that you enjoy spending time with your son in the evening. Instead of watching TV together, you might try doing some more calming activities together to help him transition to an earlier bedtime. Try playing cards, doing art projects, listening to soft music, reading or taking a bath.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.