British Columbia

Are your kids' sleep habits a nightmare? These tips work like a dream, researchers say

Researchers from the University of British Columbia have looked at the research on shuteye for youth, and parents won’t want to sleep on the results.

Getting into routines, limiting electronic use key to good 'sleep hygiene'

The University of British Columbia has looked at 44 separate studies to find ways to help kids get a good night's sleep. (Shutterstock/supparsorn)

Researchers from the University of British Columbia have looked at the research on shuteye for youth, and parents won't want to sleep on the results.

Researchers Wendy Hall with the university's School of Nursing and Elizabeth Nethery with the School of Population and Public Health have found that between countries, cultures and ages there are several key measures that leave kids better rested.

"Because they're going through rapid growth and development through all their childhood years, these sleep problems can have a big impact," Hall told On The Coast host Gloria Macarenko. "Their risky behaviours, their memories, their cognition, their ability to do well in school."

After examining 44 studies on youth "sleep hygiene" — the approaches and practices that lead to a good night's sleep — Hall and Nethery found sleep routines and limiting technology before bed were some of the best ways for youth to get better sleep. The studies, Hall said, covered almost 300,000 children in their samples.

For instance, children — even older kids — benefit from a regular bedtime, quiet bedroom and reading before bed.

Routines in general are helpful to better sleep, they found, pointing to one study that found a link between family dinners and quality rest.

UBC posted this chart of sleep guidelines for youth on a webpage about Hall and Nethery's research. (University of British Columbia)

Much evidence was also found when it comes to restricting technology use before bed, Hall said.

"In fact, as young as toddlers, they got an hour's less sleep if they had an hour of exposure to TV in the evening," Hall said.

"For the adolescents and the older school-aged kids, if they're taking their phones and their games into the bedrooms ... that is really interfering with their sleep."

Parents are advised not to let kids play video games or watch high-energy movies before bed.

Hall and Nethery's research review was published in the November edition of the journal Paediatric Respiratory Reviews.

Listen to the full interview:

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast


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