Australian Council on Children and the Media

Media Use, Sleep and School Work

Sleep is very important to how our bodies function and how well our brain works. Length of sleep is important and so is the quality of sleep, that is sleep which is not interrupted by nightmares and waking up during the night.  When you don’t get enough sleep the brain is affected by not being able to plan and organize activities or pay attention.  This will affect how well you perform at school. Several studies have shown a link between media use and poor sleep.

What are the issues?

  • A recent study found that a difference of just 25 minutes per night of sleep can change school performance.
  • Watching media that is exciting and suspenseful, close to bedtime, is likely to prevent you from falling asleep easily.
  • Watching frightening and violent content in the media may cause nightmares and night wakings.
  • The interactive nature of video games and using the Internet leads to an increase in alertness which also might prevent you from falling asleep easily.

Did you know?

  • In Australia children aged 8 – 11 spend a total of over 2 hours a day watching television and  DVDs. 
  • In Australia, of children aged 8 – 11 years, over 16% have a television in their bedroom, 8% have a DVD player and over 9% have the Internet connected in the bedroom.
  • Having a TV in the bedroom is significantly associated with sleep problems.
  • Teens typically need about 9 hours of sleep but only have about 7 hours per night.
  • Most children suffer from nightmares at least once in their lives from watching something scary on TV or in an electronic game.


  • Limit how much time you spend using media. If you’re under 8 then 1 hour a day is plenty. Kids over 8 should limit their time with the media to 1 to 2 hours per day at most.
  • Try to avoid watching and engaging in over- exciting media experiences close to bedtime.
  • Play video games and go on the Internet before tea time.
  • Try reading a book when you go to bed.
  • Turn off your mobile phone at night.