Impulsive Behavior Linked to Sleep and Screen Time ⋆

Impulsive Behavior Linked to Sleep and Screen Time

A study done by the globally recognized Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group (HALO) at the CHEO Research Institute in Ottawa found that children and youth who do not sleep enough and use screens more than recommended have a higher likelihood of making poor decisions and acting impulsively. The results were published in Pediatrics.

“Impulsive behavior is associated with numerous mental health and addiction problems, including eating disorders, behavioral addictions, and substance abuse,” said Dr. Michelle Guerrero, lead author and postdoctoral fellow at the CHEO Research Institute and the University of Ottawa.

“This study shows the importance of especially paying attention to sleep and recreational screen time, and reinforces the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth. When kids follow these recommendations, they are more likely to make better decisions and act less rashly than those who do not meet the guidelines.”

How They Do it in Canada

For those who aren’t familiar with the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth, the recommended amount of sleep is 9-11 hours a night and recommended recreation time is no more than 2 hours a day. In addition, at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily is recommended.

The paper done by HALO – “24-Hour Movement Behaviours and Impulsivity” – studied the data of 4,524 children from the first set of data of a large longitudinal population study called the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study; these children were followed for 10 years and data related to sleep, exercise, and screen-time was captured.

Guerrero and her team took this data and compared it to the 8 measures of impulsivity, like one’s tendency to seek out thrilling experiences, respond sensitively to both pleasant and unpleasant stimuli, set goals, act rashly, have mood swings, and more, and their research found that those who fulfilled the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines had more favorable outcomes on 5 out of the 8 measures of impulsivity.

Though the findings have been intriguing thus far, Guerrero and her team are not finished yet and say that future research will include using feedback devices to measure movement behaviors in order to fully comprehend how children’s impulsivity is related to screen time, sleep, and physical activity.