Researchers at MassGeneral Hospital for Children and the Harvard School of Public Health have established a link between the time children spend in front of the tube and the duration of their nightly sleep.
The findings are all the more significant in light of the fact that for children, even a slight lack of sleep can have repercussions on behaviour, learning ability and memory.
More time with TV means less sleep
The findings suggest that more time spent watching TV corresponds with less time asleep, particularly when there is a TV in the child's room.
These days, it's a widely accepted fact that too much TV is a bad thing, especially for children. Scientists have shown that couch potatoes have an increased risk of obesity and high blood pressure, and that excess audiovisual stimulation can lead to attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity.
Now, a new long-term study indicates that in young children, more time watching TV could also result in less sleep.
Affects more boys than girls
The researchers, whose findings will be published in the journal Pediatrics in May, found that each additional hour of TV per day corresponded with seven minutes less sleep per night, and that the effect of TV on sleep seemed to be stronger in boys than in girls.
In addition, the results indicated that for children aged four to seven, sleeping in a room where a TV was present resulted in a half-hour reduction in nightly sleep, particularly among certain minority groups.
Limit TV exposure for better health
According to the researchers, the study reaffirms the importance of limiting children's exposure to TV in order to preserve their physical and mental health.