Why you shouldn’t fall asleep in front of the TV

I have a bad habit of falling asleep on the lounge in front of the TV. It might be for an hour or two. Often I incorporate what’s going on the tele into my dreams. Not by conscious choice. I’m not seeing anything as my eyes are closed. It’s just that the sounds go into my brain. Does this happen to anyone else? Freaky, isn’t it?

While  I struggle to go to sleep when I finally drag myself to bed, I tell (kid?) myself that at least I’ve had a few hours of sleep. And hey, isn’t an hour before midnight worth two after midnight?

Well, no, not this type of sleep! And the science of sleep tells us why. 

My readings have told me the first two stages of sleep are light sleep. It can be easily interrupted. Yep, that happens to me. TV show ends and I wake up. Son comes in and asks a question and I answer. Someone makes a noise next to me and I wake up quickly. 

By falling asleep in front of the TV you sabotage your efforts to sleep later as you deplete your melatonin levels. Didn’t know that!!

And of course the problem is made worse by the blue light from the iPhone, which I have to sneak a look at, which we all know reduces melatonin more than just a light bulb. 

So it isn’t deep sleep. It’s an hour of light sleep and I’m not allowing my brain to enter deeper stages. 

Not good at all. 

But it gets worse. 

Remember I wrote about the 90 minute sleep cycle. Well, the ratio of the different stages of sleep is not the same throughout the night. 

You have longer deep sleep in the earlier cycles. So by disrupting my sleep in the early part of the night, I am robbing myself of the deep sleep, needed to clean out the brain (and possibly avoid the protein building up in the brain that Alzheimer’s patients have.)

Now don’t smugly think you’re so good by not falling asleep on the lounge. If you delay going to bed because you’re watching the tele, you’re also missing out on the early deep sleep. 

So stop with the binge watching of Netflix. Get to bed!

And don’t fall asleep in bed with the tele on!

Looking at TV from my position on bed. We hardly use it.

Oh, and one last thing from science. Apparently they are now measuring the “busy” brainwave spikes in deep sleep. They shouldn’t be there. They might be changes due to all our use of technology. 

It’s messing with our brain waves!

Even before the iPhone, or the invention of the polysomnography and the discover of brain waves, they knew early to bed made Jack clever, rich and healthy.

Last night I was again in bed by 10.30 and fell asleep almost instantly. Unfortunately I work at 3.30am, got up, had a drink and a wee, and went back to bed but I couldn’t go back to sleep. So I go up and surfed the net for two hours. Went back to bed and slept for two more hours! I have to work on this early morning waking up!

15 thoughts on “Why you shouldn’t fall asleep in front of the TV

  1. That is quite terrifying about the spikes happening in deep sleep. I think maybe not just technology but also too much overload generally must be a part of it. I can’t always get my mind to settle when I’ve churned through 120 kids each day and then start the admin side at night. I think maybe our brains aren’t geared for so much stimulation…aside from things like falling asleep in front of the TV or having a TV in the bedroom. The 3:30am wakeup is almost a lifestyle for me but I get back to sleep about 5:30am. I know lots of other teachers who do the same. My brain just starts running lists in my sleep at that time of day!

  2. Grr! 4:20am. I waited nearly an hour before opening a screen! (first thing on it was a message notification from a student asking for help…)

    • I didn’t have a early morning wake. Asleep at after 10, woke after 5.30, which is perfect for work. You teach French, right? What on earth could they need help for in the middle of the night during holidays that they need to message??? How to conjugate to sleep? Are you still teaching primary?

      • Yes, French and hooray, no more Primary as of this year, thank goodness. This was a Year 12 wanting to lock in ongoing tutorial times (but messaged me at 1:30am!)

      • You need to advise that student that while locking in a tut is important, they will learn better and remember more if they sleep at 1.30. And jay sleep is more important.

      • Btw that is a perfect night of sleep…I would like to get to that routine and in my dreams, get up at 5:30am to exercise.

      • Join me. Obviously not in person! 8.20 and I’ve walked, did some gardening, read blogs and showered. About to have breaky. I’ve found staying off blue light (ie electronic devices) and the TV after 9.30 has done wonders.

  3. Actually after thinking about it…I might make one positive sleep move and get an alarm clock that is separate to my phone.

    Of course people don’t expect you to look at messages sent in the night (and my work has an out-of-hours email ban for staff.) But if I wake up and open my phone to check the time, then I’m wide awake from notofications.

    • Or turn off notifications? The beeping of FB, WordPress and messenger etc was waking Mr S and the banner notifications were too strong for me to ignore. So I’ve turned all notifications. I look when I want which is way too often anyway but I am in control of when. If my kids needs to call me in the middle of the night, they can. It still rings. So not on airplane or off or anything like that.

      • I have managed to turn off sounds for notifications but I still have them appear as text on the screen. So the temptation to “just quickly check” the phone if I wake up in the night. I hadn’t realised how much I’m doing this or how much it makes me wake right up instead of dozing back off.

  4. On Fiona and your back and forth – I use a phone for the alarm (cause… multitasker, less stuff etc etc). I set it to ‘night’ mode so I don’t get notifications when I’m asleep, as in the vibrate. This is largely a new habit related to… dating more than anything. It’s always on silent. I don’t get many notifications for apps (Facebook etc), but others I do (email, texts, viber, Gtalk, Fbook chat).

    I don’t get on screen notifications of emails on my work phone, and my work phone seldom comes into the bedroom. Interestingly, I have staff work til at least 23.30, and from time to time, I have got calls then or later. I cop a little bit that I don’t always respond out of hours, but then, I don’t get specifically paid to, like the callers (who are my team, and perfectly capable, they often call as it’s ‘procedure’ – I’m happy with a voicemail or text to catch me up when I wake).

    Anyhow – I never fall asleep on the sofa. It’s all with my super rigid sleep hygiene thing that makes me an intolerable bore in evenings, but bearable day in day out. Last night, late to bed (had a mirror to hang pre inspection and flatmate wasn’t back til 9.20pm) – woke tired :s

    • I wouldn’t think you’d have to always respond to our of hours calls. What if you’re sleeping?

      I need to be a bit more super rigid with my sleep hygiene. Mr S is a very early to bed type.

      Why is switching off notifications related to dating?

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