How to Get Your Kids to Sleep, Screen-Free

By: Renown Wellness Team

August 11, 2021

Small girl indoors on bed at night, using cell phone.

If you’re a parent, you’ve probably been there — the sometimes-nightly struggle to get your little ones off to bed. Elaina Lantrip, an APRN with Renown Pediatrics, offers some tips and explains how your child’s electronics may be getting in the way of a good night’s sleep.

These days, kids are consuming media from a very early age on all types of devices — from tablets and phones to TVs. While they can benefit from some media use, it can have a negative impact on bedtime. We asked Elaina Lantrip, an advanced nurse practitioner with Renown Pediatrics, for some advice on downloading a better bedtime routine.

What are the most important practices for parents to establish for their children’s bedtime routines?

I often have parents tell me that their child won’t go to bed — or to sleep. Parents frequently ask for tips on bedtime routines that work. My first question is whether their regular bedtime routine involves television, iPad, tablet, phone or anything with a screen. It’s very important that bedtime includes a bath, reading a story, talking, singing and bonding with young ones, rather than using any devices.

Why shouldn’t children have a device at bedtime?

A growing body of research supports that screen time at bedtime contributes to delays in a child’s falling to sleep; overall inability to reach the important REM, or deep sleep; waking up during the night; nightmares and night terrors. For older youth, engaging with social media before bedtime can bring up stresses, emotions and relationship issues with peers that don’t exactly create peaceful bedtime thoughts. Bedtime should be a screen-free, stress-free, peaceful time of day. It’s a great time for parents to promote self-esteem, talk through things going on in the child’s life, to encourage and build them up. Children grow up fast — bedtime is a great the opportunity with younger children to cuddle up and read a story or sing a lullaby.

What are other major considerations in making bedtime smooth and relaxing for kids and their parents?

Another factor that contributes to positive sleep habits includes children getting enough activity during the the day so they’re genuinely tired at night. Also helpful are ambient noise makers, peaceful music, avoiding sugar two hours prior to bedtime, consistency in bedtime routine, comfortable pajamas and comfortable temperature in the home. Is it important to keep the child’s bedroom dark? Dimming the lights is important, regardless of the time of year. This is another reason to ban screens, as they emit light that stimulates wakefulness.


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