Sleep and Media Screens in Pediatric Ages

Filipe Cerca, Catarina Prior


Introduction: Sleep plays an essential role in children’s physical, emotional and behavioral health. Understanding the sleep architecture, sleep duration requirements as well as the interference of media screens activity with sleep across pediatric ages is essential in order to provide an adequate anticipatory guidance for the children’s parents.
Objectives: To review current knowledge on sleep physiology with a particular focus in sleep duration requirements across pediatric ages and on the influence of media screen activity on children and adolescent sleep.
Methods: Revision of meta-analysis research studies, systematic reviews, standards of clinical orientation and original research published in Portuguese or English between 01/2000 and 08/2017 on Pubmed / Medline using the following MeSH terms: sleep; sleep requirements; sleep physiology; media screen; child and neurodevelopment.
Development: Sleep architecture and sleep duration requirements undergo constant change with age. Despite interindividual differences, optimal sleep duration intervals as well as nap times, which constitute an essential component of children’s sleep, should be followed. Along children’s age progression, other parameters need to be considered in order to maintain optimal sleep quality. The restriction of media screen use at bedtime assumes special relevance, as there is growing evidence pointing towards an association between shortened sleep time and the misuse of screen devices. Adolescents represent a particularly vulnerable population to media screens effects. Importantly, screen overuse and media content may be responsible for higher propensity for obesity, risky behavior, depression, impaired academic performance, decreased social skills and attention difficulties.
Conclusion: Anticipatory guidance for parents addressing sleep optimization and media exposure should be routinely provided as a part of health follow-up. Physicians should be capacitated to recognize symptoms or behaviors that may lead to the suspicion of screen misusing as well as to recognize children with high risk of media screen overuse.


Anticipatory guidance; media screens; sleep physiology; sleep requirements; sleep

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