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Sleep Expert Warns Why a Quarter of Brits Are at Risk of Sleepless Nights

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With hit shows like Love Island providing a constant stream of nighttime reality TV viewing and over 17,000 titles globally to choose from on Netflix, it’s no surprise over 50% (51%) of Brits have a TV in their bedroom. According to new research from bed and mattress specialists, Time4Sleep – we’re spoilt for choice at bedtime.

It’s not just catching up on the latest shows we’re using our TVs or TV beds for; we’re using them as sleep aids too. Of those Brits with a TV in their bedroom, a quarter of them (25%) turn it on before sleeping.

However, watching the channels before you doze off isn’t for everyone. Time4Sleep also revealed that 40% of Brits don’t have or don’t want a TV in their bedroom. 

With the nation divided, where do you sit? Whether you’re for or against it, a resident sleep expert at Time4Sleep, Dr Hana Patel, shares her expert insight on the true effects of channel flicking at night. 

Should you really have a TV in your bedroom?

Dr Patel explains: “Any activity that stimulates the mind will prevent us from easily getting to sleep. Watching TV is a very engaging activity that hinders people from falling asleep. Therefore, I would generally advise against having a TV in your bedroom from a sleep health perspective.

“If you like to watch TV before drifting off to sleep, I recommend turning it off at least half an hour before you go to bed, as this will help the mind to wind down before bedtime.”

Why does watching TV before bed affect our sleep?

Dr Patel explains: “One of the reasons that television is so stimulating is related to the effects of light on the body. Light affects the production of chemicals in our body, like melatonin.

“Melatonin affects the sleep and wake cycles and contributes to maintaining our circadian rhythms. Therefore, exposure to light in the evening, like that from a TV, may make it harder to get to sleep.”

If you’re one of the 25% of Brits who like to watch TV before hitting the hay or you’re looking for an alternative option to improve your sleep quality, check out Dr Patel’s five top tips below:

Try watching nature documentaries

Dr Patel explains: “We all know how it feels to binge-watch a high-energy TV drama, and the temptation to fit in a few episodes before bed is always there. However, those suspenseful, high-action thrillers can often trigger strong emotional responses, which cause our bodies to produce lots of adrenaline, making it hard to relax.

“If you rely on the television to fall asleep, then I recommend watching a visually and audibly relaxing programme, such as a nature documentary with lots of water or ocean sounds.”

Use a TV timer and stick to 30 minutes or less

Dr Patel explains: “If you find it easy to fall asleep while watching the TV, you can use a timer so that the TV switches off once you have fallen asleep. 

“The timer should be no longer than 20 to 30 minutes; if you are not asleep before then, you are unlikely to fall asleep. At this point, I recommend getting out of bed and returning to bed once you start to feel tired.”

Switch to the radio or podcasts

Dr Patel explains: “Some people find that listening to the radio or podcasts helps them sleep. Without any visual stimulus, the radio is a much less engaging medium, making it a much more relaxing activity before bed, and you can listen through your TV.”

Reduce your exposure to light

Dr Patel explains: “I recommend reducing the amount of light in the bedroom, whether artificial or natural. If your curtains or blinds don’t block out light from the outside, consider installing blackout curtains to ensure all light is blocked.

“Phones, laptops, and other electronic devices all produce blue light that will hinder your ability to sleep. Not only do these devices produce relatively intense light, but they can also be emotionally stimulating, both of which affect how sleepy we feel.”

Limit your mobile screen time

Dr Patel explains: “You can try several methods to reduce your exposure to blue light before bedtime; leaving your phone in a different room or switching it off before you go to bed are great practices for a healthy nighttime routine.

“While I appreciate that it might be difficult to cut out a bedtime scroll completely, it’s important to try this if you struggle with sleep. Even switching your phone into the dark mode or lowering the brightness on your phone or TV will reduce its intensity and thus the level of stimulation; however, it’s best to switch it off completely if you can.”

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