It’s OK to Watch a Bit of Netflix Before Sleep

Can not fall asleep unless you have TV turned on while you are in bed? It turns out you are doing yourself a favor.

black flat screen tv turned on near black computer keyboard
Research has shown that you fall asleep better if you watch your favorite show or listen to music before you go to bed.

This runs contrary to a body of therapeutic advice that suggests that people should avoid screens before bed to help them fall asleep. Perhaps the truth is more nuanced than just complete screen avoidance.

One prior study shows that even a small amount of light can affect a child’s sleep patterns. This latest study suggests that watching a program for an hour (or less) in bed before “lights out” can actually deliver better sleep.

According to more seasoned research, people who watch television or listen to music before bed are more likely to fall asleep than people who do not watch television or listen to music before bed. This is contrary to the advice of many therapists who believe that people should avoid screens before bed to help them fall asleep.

There are numerous studies that warn that contact with screens in bed can disrupt sleep

The caveat, however, is that as long as you are not multitasking, you’ll sleep better. That means keep your phone on charge and NOT in your hands!

The study, based on diary entries kept by 58 adults who recorded the amount of time they spent using media before bed and where they did it, also segmented results based on how much multitasking they did. The researchers looked at how sleep might be affected by media use, such as watching movies, TV, YouTube videos, surfing the Internet or listening to music.

Electroencephalography – tests that measure electrical activity in the brain using small metal discs attached to the scalp – was used to record measurements such as bedtime, total sleep time and sleep quality.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Morgan Ellithorpe of the University of Delaware, reports that brief media use led participants to go to bed earlier at night. When they avoided multitasking in bed, these participants also slept longer than their peers.

In contrast, participants who spent extended time surfing the Internet or watching TV slept struggled to get to sleep. Interestingly, the team found no correlation between sleep quality and media use before bed.

“If you are going to use media, like watching TV or listening to music, before bed, keep it to a short, focused session and you are unlikely to experience any negative outcomes in your sleep that night,” Dr. Ellithorpe said in a press release that accompanied the research results.

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