Adult TV 'sparks sleep disorders in children'

Exposure to adult television programmes, including news and current affairs, can cause sleeping difficulties in children, Finnish research has shown.

The researchers analysed questionnaire data from 321 parents of children aged five to six years. They looked for relationships between television viewing, sleep disturbances and psychiatric symptoms.

They found that the amount of time spent actively watching children's television programmes did not affect a child's risk of developing a sleep disorder.

But children who spent two or more hours a day watching adult-targeted programmes such as current affairs, police series, and films, were more than three times as likely to have disturbed sleep as children who did not watch adult television. This could lead to behavioural problems.

In addition, children who were passively exposed to more than two hours of television a day were 2.9 times as likely to have sleeping problems.

These risks were found to be unrelated to socioeconomic status, family income or the child's psychiatric symptoms.

emma.baines@haynet.com

J Sleep Research 2006; 15: 154-61

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