Sleep and screen exposure across the beginning of life: Deciphering the links using big-data analytics

Michal Kahn*, Natalie Barnett, Assaf Glazer, Michael Gradisar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study Objectives: Evidence for the association between screen time and insufficient sleep is bourgeoning, and recent findings suggest that these associations may be more pronounced in younger compared to older children, and for portable compared to non-portable devices. However, these effects have yet to be investigated within the beginning of life. Importantly, there are no data for the relationship between screen exposure and objectively measured infant sleep. This study examined the moderating role of age for both touchscreens' and television's relationship with sleep, using auto-videosomnography within a big-data sample of infants. Methods: The sleep of 1074 infants (46% girls) aged 0-18 months was objectively assessed using computer-vision technology in this cross-sectional study. Sleep was additionally reported by parents in an online survey, as was infant exposure to screens. Results: Age significantly moderated the relationship between daytime touchscreen exposure and sleep with a distinct pattern for younger infants, in which screen exposure was associated with decreased daytime sleep, but with a proposed compensatory increase in nighttime sleep consolidation. Compared to touchscreens, television exposure was less likely to be associated with sleep metrics, and age moderated this relationship only for daytime and 24-hour sleep duration. Conclusions: In young infants, a daytime-nighttime sleep "trade-off"emerged, suggesting that the displacement of daytime sleep by screens may lead to greater accumulation of sleep homeostatic pressure, which in turn facilitates more consolidated nighttime sleep.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberzsaa158
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • auto-videosomnography
  • big-data
  • infant sleep
  • media screen exposure
  • touchscreens


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