While some swear the screen time helps them drift off peacefully into dreamland, experts generally agree it usually won’t do your shut-eye any favors.
Here’s the scoop on what you could lose when you snooze under the glow of your TV.
If you catch Zzz’s while you watch TV, you’re not alone. So, why do people keep the shows rolling even while they drift off?
- Binge-watching. According to a 2019 survey commissioned by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 88 percent of American adults surveyed said they’ve lost sleep to watch multiple episodes of a TV show. So it could be that many people simply tend to pass TF out before the credits roll.
- Comfort. In a 2016 study, 30 percent of adults surveyed said they use TV as a sleep aid. The comforting glow and murmur of the TV may be what keeps many coming back each night.
- Habit. Like Mick Jagger and Benjamin Franklin said, “old habits die hard.” Once you’re used to watching flicks before you hit the sack, it’s easy to stick to your nightly ritual.
Most of the research available points to Netflix ‘n’ snoozing being less than beneficial for your health and wellness.
Here’s how those late-night “Friends” episodes may mess with your dreams, hormones, or overall health.
May dig you into sleep debt
You’ve heard the 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night rule again and again — for good reason. It’s backed by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (and probably your mom, too). Basically, 7 to 8 hours of sleep is probably best for an adult’s optimal health.
Any less than that and you could be contributing to your sleep debt. Much like credit card debt, that ish can add up pretty quick. It can impact your ability to think clearly, focus, or act with coordination. (There’s a reason you don’t want to attempt an obstacle course, big test, or major presentation on scarce sleep.)
In the long-term, a lack of sleep can cause mental and physical health issues.
When you sleep with the screen still rolling, you might be clocking fewer hours than you think. Even if you’re not visually tuning in, it can keep you out of that deep, REM sleep that’s essential for your health.
Decreases melatonin production
Beware of the blue light bogeyman. For the same reason that experts advise staying away from smartphone scrolling before bed, they also say to skip the sitcoms.
When your melatonin levels are suppressed by electronic use, it’s harder for your brain to know whether it’s night or day. If your brain thinks the sun is up at 3 a.m. due to the flicker of your screen, it can make it tricky to get enough sleep.
It gets your brain buzzing
From the 24-hour news cycle to social media doomscrolling, it’s easy to get sucked into constant stimulation through our many-screened present.
Research from 2012 suggests the excess stimulation from electronic media use before bed may contribute to the widespread sleep deficit among adolescents.
The barrage of visuals and sounds while you snooze may excite your brain a little too much — even while you slumber.
You can continue absorb sights and sounds for the earlier parts of your sleep cycle. So your brain might still be catching all that dialogue and potentially infiltrating your dreams. And if you happen to be watching “Black Mirror” or “Mindhunter,” that could lead to some pretty disturbing stuff.
May cause health probs
Now you know that watching TV while you sleep could lead to less sleep or diminished sleep quality. And without restful, adequate sleep, you may experience:
So, sleeping with the TV on could have serious health effects. However, 2019 research suggests it might not be the worst thing ever — especially if it helps you fall asleep in the first place.
Basically, it’s better to sleep with the TV than to not sleep at all.
Not unlike white noise
Some peeps use TV like white noise to help lull them to dream land. They don’t keep the volume up high, follow along with the plot, or watch the screen — they just enjoy the sound softly in the background.
If that sounds like you, it might not be a huge prob. Much like the whir of a fan or the chirp of crickets, if the sound isn’t stimulating your brain, soft TV noise could actually be an effective sleep aid.
It’s also worth noting that a 2010 study linked internet use to diminished sleep quality among university students, but not TV use.
Not-as-bad blue light
Even though TVs emit that troublesome blue light, they give off less than that of your phone, tablet, or laptop. And the lower your blue light exposure, the better your sleep may be.
There are always blue-light-blocking glasses, too — although wearing them while you snooze isn’t really an option.
Comfort and relaxation
Whether your comfort show of choice is “That ‘70s Show” or “Schitt’s Creek,” lots of peeps have a mood-boosting go-to. So, if your show helps you feel cozy and reduces anxiety before bed, it may not be doing that much harm.
Some older research from 2008 also found that music helped improve sleep quality in student participants. So it’s possible your fave movie’s soundtrack could have a similar effect.
Whether you’ve decided to shut off your nightly TV time or just need some help upping your sleep game, consider the following tips to catch more Zzz’s:
- Keep away from the caffeine. Quit your coffee habit at least 5 hours before bed.
- Step away from the late-night snacks. Stop eating after dinner, since food can energize you and keep you up.
- Don’t exercise late at night. Exercising in general can help you sleep — just not right before bed.
- Skip the nightcap. It may be tempting, but that glass of wine could sabotage your sleep.
- Keep a regular sched. When it comes to your circadian rhythm, consistency is key.
- Consider a melatonin supplement. It just might help.
- Wear a sleep mask. Keeping out ambient light can help you sleep deeper.
- Try a white noise machine. Instead of TV, try white noise, the new and trendy pink noise, or other soothing sounds instead.
- Try some sleepy-time tea. Chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, oh my — a calming nighttime tea might just do the trick.
- Keep a comfy bedroom. Keep your bed comfy and inviting, and try to keep work, stress, and screens far away from your special space.
Watching TV while you snooze prob isn’t the best idea. It could lead to poor sleep quality and health issues.
But if you feel you truly can’t sleep without TV, go ahead and use it as a sleep aid for now — it’s always better to get some shut-eye than none at all.
Play it softly and keep the screen as far away from you as possible to minimize potential probs.