Watching TV Before Bed? Here's Why It's a Bad Idea - Home & Texture
Bedroom Watching TV Before Bed

Does Watching TV Before Bed Really Affect Your Sleep?

Some experts say yes.

April 24, 2024 at 9:58 PM PST
Bedroom Watching TV Before Bed

Does Watching TV Before Bed Really Affect Your Sleep?

Some experts say yes.

April 24, 2024 at 9:58 PM PST

Have trouble sleeping? You’re not alone. In fact, according to Cleveland Clinic, more than 100 million Americans admit to having difficulty getting enough sleep. There are plenty of reasons for this common problem, from medical conditions to poor sleep routines. However, watching TV is another common culprit that leads to a lack of sleep quality. And the problem isn’t just what you watch, but how watching TV affects your body and its internal clock.

Why Watching TV Before Bed Harms Sleep Quality

Online privacy expert Trevor Cooke at EarthWeb gave us the skinny on why watching TV before bed isn’t in your best interests.

Photo credit: Westend61

It disrupts your circadian rhythm.

Many of us know that the human body has an internal clock that lets us know when to sleep and when to wake up. This is known as your circadian rhythm, and it’s responsible for regulating your sleep-wake cycle.

Your circadian rhythm is an important part of your overall health, and watching TV before bed can disrupt this natural rhythm, causing sleep problems.

According to Cooke, “The blue light emitted by screens inhibits the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep-wake cycles, leading to difficulty falling asleep and maintaining restful sleep throughout the night.”

It ruins your quality of sleep.

Watching TV before you head to bed can be a bad idea if you want deep, quality sleep. Cooke explains this is because “the engaging content and bright lights of TV shows stimulate the brain, making it harder to transition into a relaxed state conducive to sleep. Consequently, individuals may wake up several times during the night and feel less refreshed upon waking.”

And if watching TV before bed becomes a habit, it could quickly turn into more serious problems like insomnia. This is because watching TV or movies can trigger powerful physiological responses which make relaxing more challenging. Not to mention, watching TV in bed can cause you to associate your bedroom with being awake and alert, making it harder for your body to relax and let go.

A woman holding her back
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It can lead to neck and back pain.

Beyond disrupting your sleep quality, falling asleep while watching TV can harm your musculoskeletal system, too. When watching TV, it’s easy to fall asleep in an awkward position when relaxed on the couch, especially if you fall asleep while sitting up. And when this happens, there can be consequences.

Cooke explains, “These awkward positions, particularly on the couch, can strain the neck and back muscles, leading to stiffness, soreness, and even chronic pain over time. The lack of proper support and alignment for the spine can exacerbate existing issues or contribute to the development of new ones, such as misalignments or herniated discs.”

It can cause circulatory issues.

Depending on how you sleep, certain positions can put pressure on certain body parts. This, in turn, keeps your blood from flowing properly, causing circulation issues.

Symptoms of poor circulation include numbness, tingling, and even muscle fatigue in the affected areas. And if you have a preexisting condition like varicose veins or deep vein thrombosis, it can make it even worse.

It causes cognitive impairment.

Sleeping is a healthy way to repair and rejuvenate the brain. And when we disrupt this natural process, it can lead to cognitive impairment.

According to Cooke, “Poor sleep quality resulting from falling asleep with the TV on can impair memory consolidation, attention span, and decision-making abilities. Over time, this cognitive decline may manifest as difficulties in learning, concentrating, and processing information effectively.”



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