Without a shadow of a doubt, most people watch TV or use other electronic devices before going to bed. One study showed that a whopping 95% of people use gadgets within an hour of going to bed. The same study showed that half of people aged 13-29 and two-thirds of people aged 30-64 watch TV within an hour of their bedtime almost every night.
However, watching TV as a type of relaxation before going to bed and falling asleep to your TV can harm sleep quality. Why? Continue reading below to find out the answer.
Why Does Watching TV Damage Sleep Quality?
Here are the main reasons why you should turn off the TV before going to bed:
- Blue Light
It is well known that TV screens emit artificial blue light which impedes the production of the sleep hormone, called melatonin, and obstructs the circadian rhythm responsible for sending signals to the brain when it’s time to be awake and alert. As a result, it is harder to fall asleep and stay sound asleep once you finally do fall asleep.
What’s more, falling asleep to your television running could also have some negative mental effects. Namely, even the dim lights emitted by a running TV screen while sleeping can lead to depression symptoms and disturbed sleep-wake cycles, according to a study. So, as our bodies, by nature, respond to darkness at night, it’s best to turn off any lights, including TV screens, before going to bed.
- Peak Noises
Falling asleep to the television running means that you are going to have lots of background noise that could impede your sleep and wake you up. The truth is that, even when deeply asleep, the brain continues to identify sounds so any excess noise can be disturbing, especially because most TV shows typically use high-volume audio.
But why is TV noise disruptive while other background noises like birds, fans, and even music, are considered safe for sleep? The answer is that TV emits peak sounds, such as a clapping audience, fight scenes, gun shooting, etc., and the variation in TV audio means that these peak sounds are pretty common.
How to Avoid the Negative Effects of TV on Sleep?
Now, if you worry that watching TV compromises your sleep quality, follow these tips to minimize its impact:
- Always, but Always, Turn the TV Off Before Falling Asleep
Here’s the simplest and easiest tip you could follow if you don’t want your TV to interfere with your circadian rhythm. That said, ensure you always turn the TV off before shutting your eyes so it’s no longer a distraction to the brain.
- Listen to Some Music Instead of Watching TV
Swapping out the television for some music is the next preventative measure you could take to protect your sleep quality. According to studies, listening to music before and during sleep can slightly boost sleep quality. Just ensure you listen to soothing music.
- Avoid Using Electronic Devices, including TVs, Before Bed
Finally, another simple tip to follow is limiting the use of electronic devices for at least an hour before bedtime. As already mentioned, TVs and all electronics emit blue light. Hence, it’s best to avoid them and try reading print books, meditation, yoga, or other relaxing activities.
However, if you simply can’t go without electronics, consider using a blue-light-blocking screen or glasses.