Want Your Kids to Get a Better Night's Sleep? Nix the Violent Cartoons

Watching age-appropriate shows before bedtime cuts down on sleep problems, a study finds.

Watching violent TV shows before bedtime could interfere with sleep, a study finds. (Photo: Roberto Munoz/Getty Images)

Aug 6, 2012
Jeannine Stein, a California native, wrote about health for the Los Angeles Times. In her pursuit of a healthy lifestyle she has taken countless fitness classes, hiked in Nepal and got in a boxing ring.

Parents, if you want your kids to get a better night’s sleep, let them watch Curious George instead of Bugs Bunny before they sack out.

A study finds that for children, watching nonviolent, age-appropriate shows before bedtime may cut down on sleep disturbances. Sorry, Bugs, but for toddlers, dropping an Acme anvil on Wile E. Coyote’s head counts as violence.

Researchers worked with a group of 565 children ages 3 to 5, some of whom switched their before-bed viewing habits from watching violent shows or programs geared to older kids to educational, prosocial shows. Others who didn’t change their viewing habits were considered a control group.

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After tracking the kids’ sleep routines for months, researchers found that those who watched less violent shows were substantially less likely to have sleep problems compared to those who didn’t change what they watched.

“Content that’s funny for older kids can be too violent for really young children,” study co-author Michelle Garrison of the Seattle Children's Research Institute told ABC News. “We really don’t want them exposed to any violence at all.”

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Garrison told U.S. News and World Report, “Sometimes parents feel overwhelmed by the idea of getting rid of TV altogether, but switching shows can make a big difference.”

Although other studies have shown a link between exposure to violent images and sleep disturbances in childhood, the authors of this study wanted to see if changing viewing habits could have an effect on sleep. The authors said that shows such as Curious George, Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer are good examples of age-appropriate, nonviolent shows. The study was published online today in the journal Pediatrics.

Are you careful about what you let your children watch before they go to bed? Let us know in the comments.

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