Is your children's computer time affecting their sleep patterns?

Could your child's sleep troubles be related to too much computer time?
Could your child's sleep troubles be related to too much computer time?

As F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, "The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to." As a parent, you can probably relate to a few sleepless nights from time to time. Oh, OK...maybe more than a few. But hey, you can handle it because you're a parent and you're invincible, right?

But when it's your kids' sleep that's suffering, it's a whole other ballgame. When kids don't get enough sleep, their attention, behavior, performance in school and even health can suffer. And let's not forget that sleep-deprived kids can be a drain on your own energy and nerves. So what's affecting your kids' sleep patterns? Can something they use on a daily basis -- the computer, for instance -- make it hard for them to sleep?

Kids today have more media options, and more ways to access that media, than ever before. According to findings published by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center which studies the role of digital technologies in childhood literacy, about 60 percent of children between ages 5 and 9 use the Internet every day! But that's not really all that surprising -- much of today's media caters to the tastes and interests of your kids. From 24-hour kids' TV programming to Web sites and computer and video games featuring their favorite characters, it's a non-stop, all-day party for their brains. There's just so much to hold their attention that it makes you wonder if they're really able to power down long enough to catch some shuteye.

So how, exactly, does all of this stimulation affect your kids' ability to sleep and what you can do to minimize the impact?