Is It Bad To Watch TV in Bed?
Watching television is one of America’s favorite pastimes. But watching TV in bed? Bad idea. And still, people do it all the time. The leisurely activity is so addicting that many Americans spend over 35 hours of television a week in front of the tube. Another study reports that 64 percent of households have a TV in the master bedroom, and the effects have not gone unnoticed. While some claim that watching television helps them fall asleep, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports that a staggering 80% of U.S. adults are losing sleep due to binge-watching. Keep reading to learn more about the relationship between TV and sleep.
How Watching TV in Bed Disturbs Sleep
Experts recommend that you get eight hours of solid and restful sleep in the bed, the results of which will help you enjoy a long and healthy life. Unfortunately, falling asleep with the television on is likely to disrupt this routine, causing you to wake up sluggish, heavy-headed, and irritable. Watching TV in bed also disrupts your melatonin levels, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep-wake cycles.
Regular poor sleep, or bad sleeping habits— which includes watching TV in bed— can actually shorten your life expectancy by putting you at a higher risk of serious illnesses such as diabetes, coronary heart diseases, and more.
When you watch TV at night—or use your electronic device— you expose yourself to blue light, which is the artificial light emitted by the screen. Though this light is invisible to the naked eye, it still interferes with your natural levels of melatonin. And this interaction is commonly linked to insomnia.
Natural blue light works in the same way. It sends signals to our brain to remain awake and widely focused. The only difference is that we typically only experience this light when we're meant to be awake.
When we bring blue light into the bedroom, we introduce wavelengths that actually fight against our urge to sleep. To avoid significant interruptions, it's recommended you turn off the TV at least three hours before bed. You may also want to download quality blue-light filtering apps for your devices.
If you allow your TV to run in the background while you are falling asleep, your brain continues to pick up the background noise. These peak noises may include yelling, explosions, loud music, laughter, violent news clips, or clapping, and they have a major effect on sleep quality.
Unlike the low hum of the air-conditioner or artificial ambient sounds, peak noises revolve around startling points in the audio. In other words, they include sudden, loud audio bursts likely to jolt you awake. They can also occur repeatedly throughout the night, preventing you from meeting the required amount of deep sleep needed, even if you’re lying in bed for an entire eight hours.
TV Disrupts Your Internal Clock
Each one of us has an internal clock, which controls our body’s sleep-wake cycle for 24 hours. Our internal clock, which is part of our body’s circadian rhythms, promotes falling asleep easily, consistently, and deeply.
All of our body’s circadian rhythms are linked to a master clock located in the hypothalamus, specifically in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). The SCN is highly sensitive to light, which makes our circadian rhythms connected to the cycle of day and night.
Light has a powerful influence over our circadian rhythms, so when your TV screen is blasting off blue light, your internal clock gets confused. This can destroy your sleep cycle and make it impossible to achieve quality sleep.
Watching TV Keeps You Up Later
Nearly one-third of Americans watch TV as a sleep aid. The only problem is that if you end up watching a TV show that you enjoy, you run the risk of marathoning the show from bed.
Tuning in at night may entertain and relax you. However, it's not always a healthy habit. We often end up staying up later than usual when watching TV. A later bedtime means less sleep. And if what we watch happens to be confusing, even disturbing, we could be kept up even later than that.
Losing sleep occasionally is pretty harmless. We have all experienced sleeping too late or not sleeping enough at some point in our lives. But making it a habit can actually cause serious health issues.
How to Keep TV From Ruining Your Sleep
It’s never too late to reverse an unhealthy habit, even ones that revolve around TV. Of course, it won't happen overnight, but you can always take baby steps towards that goal. Listed below are a few ways to get started.
It’s hard to rip yourself away from the screen when watching one of your favorite shows. Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and other streaming platforms encourage you to binge shows by giving you an all-access pass to entire seasons of TV series or by providing prompts to keep watching.
What you can do is limit the number of episodes each day and have the willpower to stick with it. Schedule your TV watching, as well. This could help you avoid the habit of watching TV before bed.
Make sure you are watching early in the evening, at least three hours before bedtime, or during your lunch break. This could allow you to get an entire eight hours of restorative sleep.
Read a Book
To fall asleep, try reading a physical book instead of enjoying TV before bed. Avoid reading on your phone or tablet due to the sleep-damaging blue light.
Reading a book is known to greatly reduce stress, which can help you fall asleep faster. It can also distract you from unwanted thoughts and help you forget about problems you may have encountered throughout the day.
Additionally, reading causes your brain to work harder and makes your eyes tired. As a result, your eyes slowly close, which leads to great sleep quality.
Listen to Background Music
Instead of turning on the TV before bed, try listening to relaxing ambient sounds. There are plenty of sleep-inducing music and relaxation apps available. Search for the type of background noise most likely to soothe you to sleep, from the sound of rain, deep white noise, to ocean waves and more.
Get Some Exercise
Working out for 30 minutes to an hour a day can help you sleep faster. There is no perfect time for exercise— you can do it early morning or early evening, or even in the afternoon.
Drinking chamomile or any sleep-inducing decaffeinated tea before bed can also help you get a full and rested sleep. Try experimenting with which types of light and relaxing tea are the most delicious for you and make it a habit to drink at least two hours before bed.
Lying in bed and watching TV, or keeping the TV running while you sleep, can be a pretty damaging habit. Fortunately, it is not too late to reverse the routine. There are many other healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety, not just consuming too much TV before bed. You can also try clean herbal supplements, which are proven to provide you regular 8 hours of well-rested sleep, so you can wake up refreshed and invigorated.
Having a TV in your bedroom isn't ideal for sleep, since it introduces interruption blue light and loud noises that can prevent you from falling or staying asleep.
Watching TV at night in your bedroom can cause eyestrain. Though, the more troubling fact is the dangerous effect of blue light on the eyes. Allowing yourself to enjoy a series or a movie every night can cause dry eyes, blurred vision, and, in severe cases, macular degeneration (blindness).
Watching TV emits blue light, which could also be related to depression. Additionally, achieving any less than eight hours of sleep can be related to mood disorders, mental health issues, and cognitive dissonance.