Television use and its effects on sleep in early childhood

Sleep Health. 2019 Jun;5(3):241-247. doi: 10.1016/j.sleh.2019.02.009. Epub 2019 Apr 13.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to investigate the impacts of television (TV) viewing and bedroom TV presence on young children's sleep as measured by actigraphy.

Design: Analyses of covariance were run to examine differences in sleep duration and quality among children based on the presence of TVs in their bedrooms and the amount of TV watched.

Setting: Recruited in preschools in Massachusetts; recorded ambulatory (in home, environs).

Participants: Participants were 470 children between 33 and 71 months of age (M = 51.02).

Measurements: Children were instructed to wear an actigraph watch for 16 days. Caregivers reported demographic information, completed behavior questionnaires, and answered questions regarding their child's TV use.

Results: Children who watched more TV and had TVs in their bedroom displayed significantly shorter sleep duration and worse sleep, but they also napped significantly longer in the daytime. Nonetheless, total 24-hour sleep was shorter for those who watched more TV and had TVs in their bedroom compared to those who did not have TVs in their bedrooms or watch TV frequently. Children who had TVs in their bedrooms watched TV later at night, watched more adult TV programs, and had higher negative affect than children without TVs in their bedrooms.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that TV use in young children does impact sleep duration and quality as measured by actigraphy, and daytime napping does not offset these negative impacts.

Keywords: Actigraphy; Early childhood; Sleep; Television.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Actigraphy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sleep*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Television / statistics & numerical data*
  • Time Factors