The Common Bedtime Habit Hurting Your Health — Plus, 4 Healthy Alternatives
(AscendHealthy.com) – As children, many of us slept with nightlights. As adults, many people sleep with the TV playing. Unfortunately, it’s a bedtime habit that may be harming our health. Research indicates that people who sleep with their TV running may get poorer sleep and have more health problems overall. Here’s why.
1. The Light May Keep You From Sleeping Deeply
Like napping during the daytime, sleeping with the TV on at night may expose us to too much light. Increased light levels may be uncomfortable for sleeping because they keep people from entering the deep, restful REM levels of sleep their bodies need to stay healthy.
Not only are people who leave the TV on not sleeping as deeply, but they may not be sleeping as much, either. That increases “sleep debt,” or the amount of sleep we need versus the amount of sleep we actually get, which may contribute to health problems and risks. Most people need around 8 hours of sleep each night, but someone who leaves the TV on may be getting less than that regularly.
2. It May Stimulate Your Brain
Our brains have to calm down and receive less stimulation to fall and stay asleep, allowing for drowsiness and eventually leading to sleep. But leaving a TV on stimulates the brain, which may contribute to staying awake longer and reducing the length and quality of sleep.
“Just one more episode” is a common trap to fall into, and before we know it, it’s late and we’re exhausted. That may mean a short night and feeling groggy the next day. Reducing brain stimulation as we get closer to bedtime is part of a healthy sleep routine. TV may stimulate the brain and disrupt sleeping patterns.
3. You May Not Make as Much Melatonin
We make melatonin, the hormone that helps us sleep. It helps signal the body when the day is over, that it’s nighttime and rest time. But when we leave the TV on at night, melatonin production may be disrupted. That may confuse the body’s circadian rhythm and throw off the body’s ability to tell between day or night.
That confusion, in turn, may lead to further decreases in melatonin, potentially leading to insomnia at night and daytime sleepiness or drowsiness. In short, falling and staying asleep at night becomes a challenge, as does staying awake and alert each day.
4. It May Impact Your Health (and Your Waistline)
Not getting enough of the right kind of sleep has been linked to health problems like diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. It may also contribute to a weakened immune system, making it more difficult to stay healthy and fight infection.
Turning the TV off at night is one way to help lower our risk of chronic diseases, make our immune systems stronger, and control our weight, too. Other factors go into preventing these health conditions, but turning off the TV instead of sleeping with it on might be a strong contributing factor — and one that’s easy to change.
How to Wind Down, Instead
Instead of turning on the TV when going to bed, there are better ways we may be able to relax and sleep. Rather than automatically reach for the remote, consider doing one (or more) of these things for relaxation:
- Read a relaxing book
- Sip a warm drink
- Take a warm bath
- Practice meditation
With plenty of reasons to avoid sleeping with the TV on and some great options to relax before bedtime, we may be able to sleep better and improve our overall health. It may take some time to break patterns, and some research indicates that leaving the TV on sometimes, for a short time, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But remember, sleeping with a TV on all night, every night, may put our health at risk.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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