Think again before falling asleep to your favorite TV show!

Think again before falling asleep to your favorite TV show!

Written By
Sleep Research
Read Time: 4 minutes

This last year, more so than ever, has meant we are struggling to sleep and many of us have been actively looking for methods to help.

Some of the common ways that people often try to help themselves fall asleep is through podcasts, music and TV. In fact, after surveying 3,089 Americans we found that 71% of people do so before sleeping. However, further research suggests that these are not always the best options. 

We wanted to delve further into this so conducted a study to determine how doing these things before bed affects sleep. We looked at how long it took participants to sleep, their sleep quality and how they felt when they woke up. 

To conduct the study we asked 204 remote participants to record their sleep using sleep trackers for two weeks. The participants were split into four categories where they did one of the four following before sleep; watched TV, listened to a podcast, listened to music or had no technological engagement for two hours before sleep. The participants then tracked their sleep quality and answered questions about how rested they felt every morning. Each participant was told to try and sleep for nine hours a night.

It was found that on average, the participants that watched TV before falling asleep were three times as likely to wake up feeling tired than those who had no electronic engagement before sleep. It was also noted that although participants fell asleep faster on average when listening to music, their sleep quality was worse. 

The sleep trackers analyzed how long people were asleep by looking at the amount of sleep a person got, and also how restless they were throughout the night. The list below shows the average sleep amount for the four different categories. 

Average sleep amount

  • No electronic engagement – 7 hours 47 mins 
  • Podcasts – 7 hours 03 mins 
  • Music – 6 hours 55 mins 
  • TV – 6 hours 30 mins 

Average Amount of Sleep

When looking into how long it took participants to fall asleep, the average time was as follows. 

Average time to fall asleep

  • No electronic engagement – 17 mins
  • Podcasts – 23 mins
  • Music – 10 mins
  • TV – 34 mins

Average Time to Fall Asleep

We also asked participants to log how they felt each morning. Looking at this on average over the two week period we found the below. 

Number of participants who felt tired when waking up 

  • No electronic engagement – 26%
  • Podcasts –  54%
  • Music – 33%
  • TV – 80%

To find out a little more about how much watching TV affects sleep in particular, we asked participants to note the genre of TV or film they were watching before sleeping. According to the results, those who watched reality TV before bed slept on average 32 minutes longer than those who watched romance films. Surprisingly, those who watched thrillers or horror slept the most on average, at 7 hours 50 mins, although it took them around 44 minutes to fall asleep. 

Average amount of sleep per genre  

  • Romance – 6 hours 45 mins
  • Thriller / Horror – 7 hours 50 mins
  • Reality – 7 hours 17 mins
  • Comedy – 6 hours 55 mins
  • Action – 7 hours 30 mins

Taking a look at how long it took the participants to sleep, depending on the genre of TV or film they watched. 

Average time to sleep per genre

  • Romance – 36 mins
  • Thriller / Horror – 44 mins
  • Reality – 15 mins
  • Comedy – 22 mins
  • Action – 39 mins

Blue Light Quote

Here at Sleep Junkie, we never recommend people use electronics for at least two hours before sleeping, mainly due to the affect of the blue light. Blue light is fine in the morning, or throughout the day as it stimulates the brain and makes people feel alert, it even elevates body temperature and heart rate. However, if people are looking at blue light before sleeping, it’s not going to have a good effect when trying to rest*. Why not try some deep breathing to relax or read a book before bed? Any activity that soothes you, that doesn’t involve a screen will help your body and mind unwind. 

Dorothy Chambers, of Sleep Junkie, said,

“This past year, more so than ever, people have been struggling to sleep and it’s no surprise. There is a lot of information online about the best ways to fall asleep, and it seems many people are still turning to technology or audio aids when in fact they might not be the best method.

“We wanted to carry out this study to delve deeper into how such things really affect our sleep. We hope that the research provides some insight for people, and can help people make more informed decisions when it comes to their sleep.”