We’ve all dealt with children who are alternately too sleepy or too restless to pay attention, whether it’s in the classroom, out in public or at home. Who’d have thought that modern technology and a misunderstanding about how it affects us that could be causing both?
According to an article in Education Week, the artificial light (called “blue light”) that emits from energy-efficient lamps, computer screens and some TVs can lead to sleep problems for children – especially when they are exposed to it later in the day. One expert says exposure to blue light in the late afternoon and evening can disrupt sleep as much as six to eight hours, very similar to cross-country jet lag! Have you seen that your children are getting fewer hours of sleep during the week and then sleep in too much on weekends? Blue light could be to blame.
The problem is, experts say, blue light is the brain’s natural way of waking up. It’s the dominant color in sunlight in bright daylight. The blue light triggers a chemical, cortisol, which keeps us alert. As daylight gives way to nightfall, the spectrum of colors in natural light goes in the red zone and farther away from blue. This night light is meant to trigger melatonin, which relaxes our brains and prepares us for sleep. So you can see how using artificial blue light tricks our brain into staying awake when we want it to snooze.
The distraction of technology is also making it harder for our children to maintain concentration, experts say. While children today may be better at multitasking – because they’ve grown up with a lot of the technology that surrounds us today – it might be at the risk of losing the ability to concentrate.
Unplugging from technology and giving children activities that keep them happily occupied away from it not only will help give them focus, but they’ll be able to sleep better. And, perhaps, we adults might do well to follow our own advice! Do you have any tips to share on getting proper sleep and teaching your children to pay attention? Please comment below or share your advice on our Facebook page.