Imagine the luck of getting to live in the same era as peak television history – where we have gems like The Office, Parks & Rec, and Grey’s Anatomy (just to name a few), at our fingertips on the top streaming platforms.
We can binge entire series in just weeks. On average, it can take your avid watcher only a handful of days to finish the first season of an hour long drama. It’s pretty easy to get lost in our Netflix accounts and to continue sitcoms and dramas to continue playing once we’ve started. Just one more episode won’t hurt, right?
But now more than ever, these streaming platforms are hurting our sleep patterns. We’re attached to our screens constantly, from working on computers, to relaxing on our phones, and winding down at the end of the day with a few episodes of our favorite TV show before bed.
There are many factors as to why our sleep gets affected by our all-night binging marathons. Healthline reported a study that proposed that binging TV can “lead to a stronger sense of involvement in the narrative” which helps keep us up after viewing. We’re less likely to fall asleep soundly if we’re wound up thinking about the last episode we just watched. Our brains aren’t designed to be stimulated by enticing TV shows to lulled to sleep right away in the same breath.
Dr. Steven Feinsilver, Lenox Hill Hospital’s director of sleep medicine, also said that while blue light from our devices are definitely a problem, so is the fact that our world is much more involved with the interaction of our devices. We’re surrounded by our devices constantly – whether it’s the computer at work, the phone in our hands, or the TV at home.
Nearly 70% of Americans have trouble falling asleep once a week
An estimated 164 million Americans suffer from some sort of sleep problem at least once a week. If you do have sleep troubles, it’s suggested that cutting back from screen time before bed can help you fall asleep faster as opposed to those who are watching TV in the last two hours before bedtime. Not only are you closing yourself off to blue light interaction, but you’re limiting your brain activity from becoming too involved in the narrative of a show or movie you’re watching.
Here are some things you can do before bed instead:
1. Guided Meditation: A lot of people think that reading a book before bed is better for you (and it may be better than watching TV in bed), but it can put strain on your eyes, and similar to a TV show, can rile your brain up! Instead, try guided meditation. There are many apps available for your phone; you can listen and follow along with your eyes closed until you've peacefully drifted off to sleep.
2. Yoga: Doing some gentle yoga poses before bed can help relieve stress that you've been holding in your body and mind. It will increase your blood flow and oxygen flow, which will help you fall asleep. You can find bedtime yoga videos on YouTube.
3. Take a warm bath or shower: An important part of falling asleep is our body temperature dropping. Warm baths and showers increase our temperature, so when we get out, our temperature drops and helps our body fall asleep quicker. Plus-- there's no denying how soothing a warm bath or shower feels!
If you don't think you can give up your pre-sleep viewing, and you're sure what you're watching won't keep you up, be sure to wear protective glasses! Blue light glasses are slowly becoming a staple in the office, but there’s no reason why that shouldn’t continue in the bedroom. Blue light refers to the visible light, usually coming from sunlight, that have shorter wavelengths – which contain more energy. Protect your eyes from stimulating blue light interaction by turning off fluorescent and LED lighting and turning off devices around bed time, or simply wearing the proper eye gear if you just can’t turn them off.