Background: Short sleep duration and poor sleep quality have been demonstrated to be associated with childhood obesity. It has been suggested that electronic entertainment and communication devices (EECDs) including TVs, computers, tablets, video games and cell phones interfere with sleep in children and youth. The aim of this study was to assess the impact that the use of EECDs in the hour before bedtime has on sleep and weight status to inform sleep promotion interventions and programs to prevent childhood obesity.
Methods: A provincially representative sample of 2334 grade 5 children and their parents in Alberta, Canada was surveyed. Parents reported their child's bedtime and wake-up time along with how often their child snored, felt sleepy during the day, woke-up at night and woke-up in the morning feeling unrefreshed. Sleep duration, sleep quality and sleep efficiency were derived from these indicators. Parents also reported on the presence of EECDs in their child's bedroom, while children reported use of EECDs during the day and frequency of using each of these devices during the hour before sleep. The height and weight of children were measured. Multivariable mixed effect linear and logistic regression models were used to determine how sleep duration, sleep quality, sleep efficiency and weight status are influenced by (i) access to EECDs in children's bedrooms, (ii) use of EECDs during the hour before sleep, and (iii) calming activities specifically reading during the hour before sleep.
Results: Sleep duration was shorter by -10.8 min (cell phone), -10.2 min (computer) and -7.8 min (TV) for those with bedroom access to and used these EECDs during the hour before sleep compared to no access and no use. Good sleep quality was hindered by bedroom access to and use of all EECDs investigated during the hour before sleep, particularly among users of cell phones (OR = 0.64, 95% CI: 0.58-0.71) and computers (OR = 0.72, 95% CI: 0.65-0.80). Very good sleep efficiency was decreased by access to and frequent use of a TV (54%), cell phone (52%), tablet (51%) and video games (51%). Odds of obesity were doubled by bedroom access to and use of a TV and computer during the hour before sleep. Children who rarely read a printed book in the bedroom during the hour before sleep had a shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep quality and sleep efficiency compared to their peers. Having access to an EECD in the bedroom was associated with increased obesity despite frequently reading during the hour before sleep.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that sleep duration, sleep quality, sleep efficiency and weight status are better among children who do not have EECDs in the bedroom and frequently read a book during the hour before sleep as opposed to those who use EECDs during this hour. Education of limits against EECD use by parents may improve sleep outcomes. These findings will inform health promotion messages and may give rise to national recommendations regarding EECD use.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01914185 . Registered 31 July 2013 Retrospectively registered.
Keywords: Electronic devices; Elementary school children; Sleep duration; Sleep quality sleep efficiency; Total time in bed; Weight status.