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TV and Sleep – Not the Best Bedfellows

watching tv in bed.jpgTV HABITS KEEPING YOU UP? You’re not alone. It should come as no surprise that adults often do not get the 7-9 hours of sleep recommended by the National Sleep Foundation.

Everyone is so quick to blame smartphones for this problem. The truth is that there is another, much older technological device in your home that shapes how much you sleep, the way you sleep, even the color of your dreams. It is your television.

With a better understanding of the relationship between TV and sleep, you can enjoy the latest shows without losing out on quality shut-eye.

Electronics and Sleep

When you turn on the television in the dark, your eyes immediately squint. This is a result of the blue light emitting from the screen. It makes you artificially alert and wakes you up more than you may need.

Electric lighting was a haven of a 19th Century invention, and it has changed the way humans live in the evening time. The trouble is, those blue lights suppress the production of melatonin, a natural hormone that tells your body it is time to sleep. Without a proper dose of melatonin at the right time each night, you find it harder to get to sleep, and more difficult to stay sleeping once you get there.

TV in the Bedroom

While few things are more comfortable than getting into your bed to watch “The Late Show” or something similar, having a TV in the bedroom may be setting you up for a poor night.

A study from New York showed that children who have televisions in their bedrooms are more likely to suffer from sleep problems. These children also watched 30 hours of television per week, nine hours higher than the average of 21 hours.

The sheer availability of having a TV in the bedroom makes you more likely to settle in for viewing than a good rest. You climb in to catch up on the latest episode of “The Walking Dead,” and pretty soon you are carrying out your own version of the walking dead at work the next day.

Dreaming of Television

As you turn off the television and head to bed, you ought to consider how the nature of the shows you watch can affect your brain.

Decades ago, people thought it was perfectly natural to dream in black-and-white. A more recent study from the UK demonstrated that this was primarily a generational occurrence. Adults who grew up watching monochrome television sets were far more likely to have dreams lacking color than adults who were raised with color TV. It indicates that the time you spend watching TV, particularly as a child, has the potential to affect everything about your dreams, not merely the content.

Disengage for Better Sleep

For years, experts have expounded upon the benefits of cutting down on electronic use right before bed. But you don’t have to limit your television watching to several hours before bedtime. Just 30 minutes to one hour of technology-free living before you hit the sack can make all the difference.

If you must stay up late to catch the zingers on “Last Week Tonight,” keep the volume down and consider watching it on a screen that allows you to adjust the level of blue lighting. As always, select content that is less likely to work you up or stress you out since anxiety alone is a big sleep killer.

In this constantly engaged society, it can be difficult to turn off the TV, particularly at bedtime. But knowing that TV and sleep can be a bad mix makes it easier to take reasonable steps to modify your viewing, without having to miss your shows.

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