The Benefits of Sleep, Physical Activity, and Limited Recreational Screen Time

The New York Times (9/26) reports investigators “tied three behaviors to higher scores on tests of mental ability in children: at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, nine to 11 hours of sleep a night, and no more than two hours a day of recreational screen time.” Included in the study were “4,524 children ages 8 to 11 who were assessed with six standard tests that measure language skills, memory, planning ability, and speed at completing mental tasks.” The findings were published online in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.
It may seem either impractical or impossible to get children to follow these guidelines, but it does appear that more parents are beginning to take these national guidelines more seriously.  Numerous studies have been reported in recent months promoting the positive health benefits of healthy sleep patterns throughout the pediatric age range, with findings ranging from decreased rates of obesity to improved academic outcomes and lesser risks for depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.  Also, by limiting recreational screen time children have additional time to get outside and play or exercise, and for families to spend time engaged in activities together.
The American Academy of Pediatrics “recommends that families create a personalized family media plan and designate media-free times throughout the day.” In addition to one “hour of daily physical activity and 8-12 hours of sleep, the AAP recommends that children not sleep with digital their bedrooms, and that they avoid exposure to screens for one hour before bedtime.” The author of an accompanying editorial observed that the association “between cognition and screen time potentially reflects an interruption of the stress-recovery cycle that children need for growth.” He wrote, “Each minute spent on screens necessarily displaces a minute from sleep or cognitively challenging activities.”

Mark Deis MD
Posted: 10/15/2018 6:32:19 AM | with 0 comments