Here’s What Watching TV Before Bed Does To Your Body
No matter how much we value a solid night’s sleep, there’s still something so soothing about vegging out in front of the television for an hour or two before bed. It’s the primary way millions of people wind down at the end of a long day, allowing their brains to “turn off” and their attention to shift to the storyline of their favorite drama, or even into the details of their latest documentary obsession. We’re not here to judge your entertainment choices — but we are going to tell you what that screen time so close to bedtime does to your body.
Unfortunately, televisions emit far more blue light than natural light, and those shorter wavelengths inhibit the body’s natural production of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone we all produce as bedtime rolls around. So if you’re someone who tunes in up to the minute that you call it a night, you’re likely going to struggle to fall asleep because your body’s signals that say it’s ready for sleep won’t quite be where they need to be. Cue the tossing and turning, and staring mindlessly at the ceiling waiting for your eyes to finally feel heavy and close.
Depending on the television show you choose, you could be unintentionally waking yourself up rather than relaxing before it’s time to turn in for the night. Programming that makes you feel scared, excited, nervous or exhilarated causes cognitive stimulation, which is the exact opposite of what you want before bed. This suspense is also what leads to that “I have to know what happens next!” impulse, which is often responsible for the binge-watching that you didn’t even set out to do in the first place. So if you’re going to keep watching television in the evening, stick to reruns of shows you’ve already seen or more soothing options. Hell, even boring shows aren’t bad in this instance.
You’re worked up from watching whatever is on your screen and you’re completely distracted from the rest of life surrounding you. This habit often hurts people’s connections with their partners since the late evening is one of the few times couples can share quality time together during the week. Even if you’re single, staring off into the abyss that is the television screen certainly isn’t helping you to bond with your friends, roommates or even pets. It might feel like a nice mental escape after a long day, but that avoidance mentality prevents you from acting mindfully and seeing what your body really needs in the present moment. Recognize when turning on the television happens simply because it’s the easier option over catching up with your person or sitting with a little discomfort inside yourself.
If you want to keep watching television nightly before bed, be our guest. Just know what that habit is doing to you (and maybe others around you), and that there are other options out there that don’t entirely suck. Take reading a good book, for example. It can be just as entertaining as the show that’s based on it, and science says it will give you a much better night’s sleep.
Sign up for our newsletter.
Say hello to the best part of your day.