Sleeping smart can be difficult.
In our fast-moving digital age, screens and streams have the ability to keep us up later than we ever wanted, driving us crazy during the next work day. Don’t worry; This is happening with everyone.
It’s a familiar story: Netflix asks, “Are you still watching?” We make a pact with our chosen streamer: just one more episode before bedtime. Another episode could change over the rest of the season and probably in the next season.
Binges happen, but it can interfere with the way you function in your daily life.
Bingeing before bed has become a habit
According to the Sleep Foundation, watching TV before bed is the biggest ritual for adults. Of those surveyed, 72.6% admitted to watching TV before it became bad, even calling it a habit. 50% of adults who watch TV before bed say they get seven hours or less of sleep each night.
88.6% of Americans watch a show at least once a month, while 80.6% say their TV habits have “similar or increased” since the start of the pandemic.
The top bedtime hours for Americans are watching TV (52.7%), taking a bath (32%), talking to a partner (22.9%), and reading a book (20.4%).
Some of the least popular rituals may be the ones that are best for your sleep health.
The least popular practices include yoga (9.6%) and exercise (10.6%). Meanwhile, 16.6% of Americans admit to checking email before bedtime, and evidence that suggests finding work/life balance can be challenging at a time when so many Americans are working remotely.
It’s only TV, isn’t it?
“My husband needed the TV to sleep through the night,” says functional medicine health coach Jenny Smith. She was the exact opposite, needing to be quiet in the bedroom in order to sleep. Like most married couples, Smith had to make a compromise. “We used to get into bed with the TV on, but turn it off after sleeping,” she says.
Today, Smith and her husband have removed TV from their bedtime routines, choosing healthier rituals instead.
“Watching TV or being on our phones stops our brains from producing melatonin naturally,” Smith told us. In addition to blue-blocking glasses, she recommends that people stop exposure to blue light at least two hours before bedtime.
It’s about setting our circadian clock. She recommends getting sun exposure within the first few minutes of waking up. And at night? “Durning the lights in your home as soon as the sun goes down is helpful for excellent comfort,” she says.
Sleep Habits and Disorders: You’re Not Alone
Between 50 and 70 million adults have sleep disorders, which may explain why so many feel the need to watch TV before bed. We think that rituals that can help us sleep may, in fact, be contributing to underlying problems.
Sleep disorders come in many forms, from snoring – which affects 48% of the population – to insomnia. About 30% of the population experiences insomnia, while 10% report chronic insomnia.
Healthy sleep habits start with finding the right bedtime routine that works for you and your interests. Not everyone will want to journal before bedtime, but some find it beneficial. Other pre-bedtime rituals that people find helpful are drinking a cup of tea, meditating, or reading a good book.
Some people recommend that you “dress up your bedroom.” This process may include decluttering your room, pulling up curtains, or turning on an essential oil diffuser. It’s a dramatic process that wants to tell your body: OK, it’s time to sleep.
Healthy TV habits: can they be achieved?
The best bedtime ritual will vary from person to person, and there will still be people who want to watch TV before bed. And let’s face it, sometimes you just want to watch another episode, and that’s okay.
“Watching TV before bed can be part of a healthy, sleep-promoting wind-down routine,” says Jeff Kahn, CEO and co-founder of Rise Science. Kahn has written extensively on sleep habits.
He recommends wearing blue-light-blocking glasses and keeping the lights dim if you watch TV before bedtime. And as for that desire to binge? Kan says to choose something episodic, not serialized. “A cliffhanger instead of a show with a clean bow at the end causes our minds to race and challenges a smooth ride into sleep,” he told us.
For sleep experts like Kahn, the bedroom environment is just as important as the activities you engage in. That means making sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet.
With so many streaming platforms and opportunities to binge-watch, it can be tough to practice a healthy bedtime routine. Still, following some of these steps can make a small difference, ensuring that you get the rest you need for a better tomorrow.
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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Justin McDevitt is a playwright and essayist from New York City. The first public reading of his latest play HAUNT ME took place in September at the Theater in New City. He is a contributor to the Rui Morgue where he takes a strange look at horror cinema in his column STAB ME GENTLY.