Associations of outdoor play and screen time with nocturnal sleep duration and pattern among young children

Huilan Xu, Li Ming Wen, Louise L. Hardy, Chris Rissel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Aim Sleep duration and pattern have important implications for children's health. This study aims to investigate nocturnal sleep duration, sleep pattern and their relationships with outdoor play and screen time among children aged 2 to five years. Methods The study used data from the Healthy Beginnings Trial undertaken in Sydney, Australia. Data on children's sleep, outdoor playtime and screen time were reported by mothers via face-to-face interviews when children were 2, 3.5 and five years old. Both cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses were conducted. Results At age 2, 3.5 and five years, 497, 415 and 369 mother-child dyads participated. Significantly, there was an overall increase in children's nocturnal sleep duration, sleep latency and an earlier bedtime, and there was a decrease in the proportion of children who woke at night over time. Each additional hour of screen time was associated with three-minute (95% CI 0.6-5) shorter sleep, 1.6-minute (95% CI 0.59-2.63) longer sleep latency, four-minute (95% CI 1.8-6.0) later bedtime and less likely sleeping ≥10 hours per night with adjusted odds ratio 0.88 (95% CI 0.77-1.00), after controlling for mothers' demographics. Conclusion Among young children, screen time and outdoor playtime were associated with sleep duration and pattern. Reducing screen time and increasing outdoor playtime might help improving children's sleep.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-303
Number of pages7
JournalActa Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Nocturnal sleep duration
  • Outdoor play
  • Screen time and sleep pattern


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