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Pediatrician: Put your phone down for better sleep

March is Sleep Health Month, and doctors say putting your cell-phone down before bed can improve your sleep.

KRCG 13 talked with SSM Health Pediatrician Dr. Dana Frazine about the necessity of creating screen-free time for the whole family.

Dr. Frazine said phones, tablets, and TVs can be detrimental for quality sleep in both adults and children. "The lights that are emitted from screen times actually emit a wavelength with blue lights that suppresses melatonin, a hormone that's critical for sleep," she said.

She said she suggests putting down electronics for at least an hour before bedtime. Dr. Frazine said it’s not just the proximity of an upcoming bedtime that should encourage you to decrease your technology use – it’s also a matter of where you use electronics as well.

"Avoid having any sort of screen time in the bed room,” she said. “The bed room should really be reserved as our sleep chamber."

Her first piece of advice for parents in today's world of constant technology exposure: don't use screen time to help your kids go to sleep. "We know that it can be very stimulating. So instead, using more soothing techniques, dimming the lights, soothing sounds, maybe reading a story together, maybe reading a story together rather than having screen time as part of the routine," she said.

Dr. Frazine said children aren't the only culprits when it comes to late-night phone-fixation.

"Adults of our generation tend to struggle with putting down their phones at night too,” she said. “So having a family policy where there is essentially an overnight charging area, a media station, something as simple all electronics on the dining room table or the kitchen," she said.

Dr. Frazine said when the devices get plugged in at their designated charging area, they should be put away until the next morning. “Focus on spending time together as a family, decompressing, unwinding, and getting prepared for bed the rest of the night," she said.

Tune in to KRCG 13 next Friday at 5 p.m. for the next Family First topic - we'll talk with a sleep specialist about how to create the best bedroom environment for quality sleep.

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