Tag Archive for bedtime

Screens at Bedtime

At our house, we have a bed­time rou­tine (bath, brush teeth, read­ing and sto­ry­time, and prayers).

After all that is done, we also have a “tran­si­tion time.” Tran­si­tion Time began a few years ago after we dis­cov­ered how long it took for Eliz­a­beth to fall asleep once we fin­ished this night­time rou­tine. She couldn’t fall asleep. Noth­ing we told her to try worked. Count­ing sheep. Say­ing a prayer. Shut­ting her eyes. Think­ing about some­thing. No mat­ter what we tried, she couldn’t fall asleep.

And it was a lot of work for her parents!

So, we insti­tuted Tran­si­tion Time, a 30-minute period in which she was allowed to play in her room before we turned the lights out. We hoped this time would allow her to unwind before lights out. This tran­si­tion period has helped her fall asleep faster and sleep bet­ter (she used to wake up in the mid­dle of the night, too) than she used to when we did not do such a thing. She is happy; we are happy.

Last year, we decided to insti­tute a sim­i­lar tran­si­tion period for Pey­ton. His bed­time is 30 min­utes ear­lier than Elizabeth’s (he just turned four; she’s almost seven) and he is required to stay in bed, but oth­er­wise it’s the same as his sister’s. Pey­ton typ­i­cally reads, stands on his bed, makes faces at him­self in the mir­ror, rolls around, talks to him­self (he is ALWAYS talk­ing), plays with his cars, or destroys things.

A few nights ago, Pey­ton asked me if he could play his Leap­ster (a gam­ing sys­tem) in bed. I said yes. He played it for 30 min­utes until I went and turned off his light.

It took him two hours to go to sleep that night.

He rolled around the bed, whined that he couldn’t go to sleep, got in and out of bed, went to the bath­room, played in the sink, played with his toys, looked out the win­dow, talked to us, asked for more hugs and kisses, went to the bath­room (again), and did just about any­thing else avail­able at the time in the dark.

After what seemed like for­ever (!), he finally fell asleep. My hus­band and I breathed a sigh of relief that we could now spend some time together (and then Levi woke up. Ha!).

The next night, Pey­ton wanted to play the Leap­ster again, and I said he could. The same thing hap­pened. The same lit­tle blond-headed boy couldn’t fall asleep.

(I still had not fig­ured out what was going on.)

Sev­eral days later, I read an arti­cle dis­cussing how screens (com­puter, TV, iPhone) should not be used right before bed­time. They stim­u­late you. Duh. That was the rea­son he wasn’t sleep­ing. He was too wired men­tally. The tech­nol­ogy had acti­vated his mind. Instead, of pro­vid­ing the wind­ing down for which this time is meant, Pey­ton was wired.

Now, no more screens dur­ing this tran­si­tion time.No iPhones, Leap­sters, Leap­Pads, com­put­ers, or TVs at bed­time. They pro­vide too much stim­u­la­tion. I don’t know how long we can keep this rule up (our chil­dren are young), but I do think our gen­er­a­tion (as par­ents and chil­dren) has to con­sider this much more than pre­vi­ous ones. Yes, we’ve had TV and com­put­ers for years, but hand­held devices such as mobile phones and gam­ing sys­tems are much more vivid, bright, and col­or­ful than the Game­boy of my generation.

Today, these devices pro­vide even greater stim­u­la­tion, over-stimulation to be exact, than pre­vi­ous devices did. It will be inter­est­ing to see what some of the effects will be–not just on sleep but on matu­rity, devel­op­ment, social­iza­tion, learn­ing, edu­ca­tion, emo­tions, and so many other areas as well.

What screen rules have you set? What advice do you have?