How Falling Asleep In Front Of The TV Can Wreak Havoc On Your Sleep Quality

With the stressors of adult life on top of today's (seemingly) crumbling world, it's easy to lean into habits that make you feel good, comfy, or just happy. But even though we do deserve things that comfort us or help us feel content, sometimes habits can still be bad for you. For instance, biting your nails could be a way to soothe your anxiety, but you can become prone to infection and germs. And bingeing your favorite show of all time can be a great stress reliever, but it might cause you problems if you do that late into the night or over important priorities instead.


On that note, if you fall asleep with your TV on, no matter what's playing, if it was an accident, or if it's your bedtime ritual, it's possibly ruining your sleep schedule and ultimately making you feel worse. The advice to stop looking at your phone screen an hour before bedtime is well-known. But there's a scientific reason behind that recommendation, which also bleeds into the issue of sleeping while the TV is left on.

Sleeping with the TV on can disrupt your sleep cycle

With so many shows and binge culture being the common way people stream shows now, it's understandable if you've fallen asleep with Netflix in the background now and then. It also makes sense if you keep saying, "Just one more episode!" well into the early morning hours to see what happens next on "Game of Thrones." However, both of those situations can mess with our sleep cycle.


As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains, our body and sleep schedules are ruled by something called a circadian rhythm, and work together under the "master circadian clock in the brain." The CDC describes circadian rhythms as "internally driven cycles that rise and fall during the 24-hour day" and help your body know when to wake up and fall asleep each day.

A part of this cycle is the pineal gland and its production of melatonin. Even though you can take melatonin supplements, the pineal gland naturally produces this hormone to help us sleep. When it's dark out, the gland produces melatonin and we get sleepy.

If you have artificial light mimicking daylight, the pineal gland gets confused and won't produce the correct amount of melatonin, disrupting your body's natural urge to sleep. Dr. Dianne Augelli, a fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and an assistant professor of Medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, told SELF that humans aren't "supposed to be exposed to any artificial light at night, period."


Exposing yourself to blue light while you're sleeping can lead to health problems

Falling asleep with your TV on causes you to take in blue light. Dr. Vikas Jain, sleep medicine specialist at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Illinois, told Health that artificial light is disruptive to natural sleeping habits, because the blue light coming from the TV, your phone, or other electronics curbs melatonin production.


Healthline reported on problems that may arise as a result of sleeping with the TV on. For one, because of the suppression of melatonin production, you're not getting the hours of sleep you need to function. They report that if you don't hit the eight hours of sleep you need, then the missed amount of time creates "sleep debt." Over time, sleep deprivation can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure, weakened immunity, and memory loss.

And even if we just want the sound or lights for comfort while we sleep, TV can stimulate your brain when you're unconscious and suppress the deep sleep that your body needs for a truly refreshing rest.