The Association Between Television Viewing and Irregular Sleep Schedules Among Children Less Than 3 Years of Age

Many adverse effects of television viewing on children have been documented including obesity, aggressive behavior, decreased physical activity, attention problems, and sleep disorders. This study considers the effects of television viewing on the sleep patterns of infants and toddlers. Data were used from the National Survey of Early Childhood Health, a nationally representative, cross-sectional study of the health and health care of children 4 to 35 months of age. The survey that was conducted of 2,068 households with children, collected information from the parent or guardian self-identified as being the most responsible for the health care needs of the child. Questions were asked about bedtime and naptime sleep schedules and hours of television viewing. The study found that television viewing among infants and toddlers was associated with an increased risk of having an irregular sleep schedule. These results were independent of many other factors, such as, maternal health, household or demographic factors, and number of family interactions, as well as parental ability to maintain a regular mealtime schedule. Varied mealtimes also were associated with a greater risk of irregular sleep schedules as were lack of emotional support for parenting and being unmarried. This study adds to the evidence that pediatricians, parents and society should support guidelines for limiting children's television viewing.