Pros and Cons of Sleeping with your TV

Posted by Darian Dozier on Dec 26, 2022 12:43:00 PM

Add a heading-Jun-24-2022-07-07-30-87-PMNodding off in front of your TV may not seem like that big of a deal. You may even like the background noise of the television, or have slept with the TV on your entire life. However, despite these "benefits" you may actually be damaging your sleep. Or not. We are going to go over the pros and cons of sleeping with your TV to help you potentially improve your sleep if you've been struggling with it! 

How the TV can ruin your sleep 

The "holy trinity" of sleep is dark, quiet, and cold. Obviously, having the TV on is disrupting two of those tenets, dark and quiet. Sleeping with the TV can also disrupt dreaming, hormones and have negative effects on your health. Here are 4 main reasons not to sleep with your TV on: 

Increased sleep debt 

All adults should get 7-8 hours of sleep every night in order to get proper rest. This sleep should be uninterrupted, and any sleep that you don't get is considered a "debt". For example, if you only get 6 hours of sleep, then you have 1-2 hours of sleep debt that you "owe" your body. 

When you sleep with your TV on, even though you may be in the bed 7-8 hours, if an hour or two of that is interrupted by the TV, then, you may not be getting as much sleep as you think. Not only can you sleep be unintentionally interrupted, but it can be intentionally interrupted when you stay up for that extra episode, or the TV show gets really good in the background and grabs your attention. 

Decreases melatonin production 

Melatonin is the main hormone that helps us sleep. It is produced when the retina, a group of cells in the back of the eye, senses low light which signals that it's time to go to sleep. 

This process is interrupted by light, especially blue light which is produced by TVs, and other devices that produce blue light. If your brain is confused on what is night and day, then it may not produce enough melatonin to help you get a good night's rest which can make falling asleep and staying asleep very difficult. 

Stimulates your brain 

When it's time to go to bed, your brain should be low amplitude, meaning there is not a lot of activity and thinking going on. This is true for anxiety and adrenaline, but is also true about your surroundings. If your surroundings are too stimulating then this can disrupt your attempt to go to sleep, or get the deep and restful sleep that you need. 

Listening to or watching TV can provide too much stimulation, especially when it contains elements like flashing lights, changes in sound, alerts, or anything else that can cause you to jolt awake. Our brains are listening all the way into deep states of sleep, so they are taking in all of the noises of your favorite television show. 

Your health is affected 

Keeping the TV on while you sleep can lead to getting less sleep. Without enough sleep, you have a higher chance of experiencing many health issues such as high blood pressure, weakened immunity and memory loss. There are other health effects that extend beyond sleep deprivation. 

Artificial light was found to increase risk for obesity, and a study found that this risk was increased even if there was no decrease in the quality or quantity of sleep. 

How the TV may not be that bad 

Sleeping with the TV on can have some serious potential consequences, however, there are a few experts who say it's not actually that bad for you. If sleeping with the TV helps you get some sleep, versus no sleep in the silence of the night, then that's always a plus. Here are four additional reasons that it may not be that bad: 

White Noise 

The hum of the TV may be a great white noise to help people sleep. They are not listening to the show itself, but are simply enjoying the sound of the TV behind them. This can be done by watching something droning, or a show that you have watched a million times and that doesn't require a lot of your attention. White noise is an effective sleep aid, making sleeping with the TV potentially not so bad. 

TVs have less blue light

TVs do give off blue light, but it's less intense than the light you get on your device like a cell phone, tablet or laptop. The less blue light something gives off, the less it will disrupt your sleep. The larger screen may also help it not be as concentrated as the smaller devices, so it's not as disruptive to your melatonin production. You can also change the settings of your TV so the brightness is reduced and even less disruptive.

Familiar sounds help sleep

There has been a lot of research on how familiar music can help people get a good night's rest, and this same concept can be applied to familiar TV shows. This doubles down on the comment made earlier regarding rewatching television shows. The familiarity can help people fall asleep, just as listening to the same songs over and over can help individuals go to sleep. 

Familiar fictional worlds can reduce stress 

TV shows and movies may provide comfort on a bad day. This may be potentially caused by the fact that engaging with familiar fictional worlds can be a stress reliever and help with self-control. Falling asleep to these worlds can help your brain relax enough to go to sleep, especially after a long day. If sleeping with the TV on gives you enough comfort to go to sleep, then that is OK.

Try your best to select fictional worlds with which you are already familiar. Choose more low-key shows, and not those that are full of a lot of action or potentially scary scenes. Setting a sleep timer can also help because it ensures that the TV just helps you fall asleep, but it goes off once you hit deep sleep so that you are uninterrupted for the rest of the evening. 

At the end of the day, the choice of whether or not to sleep with a TV is up to you. These are just a few pros and cons to consider according to personal preference. Do what works best for you, but if you continue to have trouble sleeping, then please click the orange button below to get in contact with one of our sleep health professionals.  

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