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sleep tips

Bad Sleeping Habits: Sleeping with a TV On


Watching TV in bed before sleep

Everyone has a bedtime routine that works for them. Some people like to take a warm bath while others prefer to read in a nice cozy armchair. Still others like watching tv before bed and even fall asleep with the television on. Wait! This is actually not the same as the others, because while it may feel relaxing, it is actually a very bad habit!

Is it Bad to Sleep with the TV on

Yes! A study published in the journal Behavioral Sleep Medicine found that using media of any kind as a sleep aid harms sleep quality. Falling asleep with your TV on means you’re soaking in blue light. This can mess with the quality of your sleep by suppressing production of melatonin, which is the hormone that keeps your sleep/wake cycle in sync. Doing so can also delay sleep onset, which is a medical term that describes the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep. 

It’s not just about the light. One of the biggest reasons falling asleep with the TV on is bad for you has to do with your sleep cycle. Between the flickering of the screen and the chance that whatever is on next could be something you want to see, you will stay longer in the lighter sleep stages. These aren’t where your needed restoration takes place and spending too long in light sleep causes you to miss out on some of the important work your body does during Deep Sleep and REM, such as consolidating memories and healing muscles.

You might feel like your brain needs that technological nudge to fall asleep. “I’m just laying there!” you might say. How can it really damage your sleep? Not only does it negatively affect your sleep, it wreaks havoc on your health in general. A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that sleeping with the TV on in your bedroom “may be a risk factor for weight gain, overweight, and obesity.” The authors of the report analyzed data from more than 43,000 women for the study.

How Light From Your TV Affects Your Sleep 

A survey by LG Electronics reported that 61% fall asleep with the TV on. For some, watching tv before bed is simply a nightly ritual and they don’t realize it is a bad habit worth breaking. The main reason why has to do with the light it emits. Your body has an internal clock known as your circadian rhythm, which typically works on a 24-hour cycle and is controlled in large part by patterns of light and darkness. As it gets dark, your brain’s hypothalamus kicks in to make you feel like it’s about time to fall asleep. Your brain secretes melatonin, which helps make you tired. Exposure to artificial light, like the one coming from your TV as you watch “just one more” episode, can suppress melatonin and leave you less likely to fall asleep.

A 2011 study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism looked at artificial light exposure before bedtime in 116 people with no diagnosed sleep disorders. The researchers found that when compared to dim light, exposure to indoor electrical lighting between dusk and bedtime suppressed melatonin production to some extent in about 99 percent of the participants. That’s nearly everyone! 

Clearly, the best light for sleep is no light at all! If you want to place a night light in the bathroom or hallway in case you need to get up in the middle of the night, this is okay. Get an LED light with a soothing, not too bright color. Too much light will negatively affect your sleep. If you have a dog or small child in the home, the LED bulb means that won’t heat up and burn them.

Better Ways to Fall Asleep

Using your TV as a sleep aid is not the ideal way to promote good sleep hygiene. It’s best to find a new sleep routine that helps you to relax and settle in for the night. One strategy might be to slowly whittle down your TV use and institute new calming bedtime behaviors like reading, stretching, talking to a loved one, doing a puzzle, meditating, or journaling. You may find that getting into a novel series you enjoy does just as much to entertain you than the TV did, without all the harmful blue light.

If you feel that eliminating watching tv before bed is out of the question and you need to watch your favorite show, do so on an actual television as opposed to a tablet or phone that’s right in front of your face. This may lessen the amount of blue light you’re subjected to because it’s further away. Always remember to turn off the TV before actually falling asleep. 

If you feel you need it to help you relax enough to fall asleep for the night, the problem could be due to other issues. Is your mattress comfortable and supportive enough? Have you eaten a heavy meal too late in the evening? Is your bedroom too warm? It’s worth answering these questions, as well as others, in order to ensure you’re doing everything possible to give your body a slumber oasis.

Watching tv before bed and falling asleep with it on is one of the worst habits you could develop for your sleep quality and for your health. Sleep is vital to good health! The worse our sleep is, the worse our health becomes. With much of this, City Mattress can help! Not only do we sell mattresses in over 80 comfort feels, we also have a large selection of pillows, linens, and other bedroom essentials. Maybe a relaxing scented candle will do the trick! The goal is to find a way to create a relaxing environment in your bedroom, without continuing in your bad habit of watching tv in bed.