You have checked out a new book from the library and are ready for an adventure, or perhaps you have discovered a new movie and cannot wait to watch it. To your disappointment, you fall asleep as soon as you get ready and cozy up to watch the movie or read your book. Falling asleep when reading or watching TV is a phenomenon that many people can relate to.

You fall asleep when reading or watching TV because these activities require regular eye movement and brain power. When your brain works, you naturally need to rest, hence you sleep. Moreover, most people read or watch TV before bed, and this programs the brain that these activities lead to sleep.

This article will examine why you fall asleep when reading or watching TV and how you can avoid falling asleep while reading. Is sleeping while watching TV a good idea? The reasons you fall asleep during the day.

Reasons Why People Fall Asleep When Reading or Watching TV

There are various reasons why people fall asleep when reading or watching TV. Typically, most people tend to watch TV or read after they have finished the day’s chores. You get into a comfortable position like lying in bed or on a couch when reading or watching TV. After a while, your body goes to rest, and you will fall asleep.

A 2019 American Academy of Sleep Medicine survey shows that 88 percent of American adults lose sleep while watching multiple TV show episodes. Many people tend to fall asleep before the end of the show.

People Use TV as a Sleeping Aid

Some people use TV as a sleep aid; the murmurs from the TV give comfort and act as white noise while sleeping. The glow of the TV gives some people comfort while they sleep, according to a 2016 study.

The brain associates these activities with sleep when you establish a routine of watching TV or reading before bed. Hence, every time you watch TV or read a book after a day’s work, you will fall asleep.

Reading Tires Out Your Brain

Another reason you may fall asleep while reading is that your brain is tired. Reading requires a lot of eye movements to read the words on the pages, and it also requires brain power to formulate words out of the letter and sentences from the words. Reading keeps your brain active and makes the brain tired. When the brain is tired, it is natural to require rest. You will find yourself drifting to sleep.

Your Book or TV Show Is Not Interesting Enough

Finally, you may fall asleep simply because what you’ve chosen to read or watch is not interesting enough. If the book you are reading or whatever you are watching does not interest you, your mind will wander and you will drift to sleep. Try going for something more exciting, like a thriller or a comedy.

Ways to Avoid Sleeping While Reading

If you’re tired of not being able to get through any book or TV show, then this section is for you. Here are some ways to avoid falling asleep while reading or watching TV.

Wear Glasses if You Need Them

If you require glasses when reading, it is crucial to use them as they will help you avoid straining your eyes so much. Wearing glasses will also give you more time to read as you will not get tired so quickly. Plus, this will help prevent further straining your vision.

Don’t Get Too Comfortable

While reading, make sure that you sit in a comfortable position, but not so comfortable that you fall asleep. It feels amazing to curl up in bed or on the couch with a pile of blankets, but this can often make us fall asleep inadvertently. Get a comfortable chair instead of lying on the bed or couch.

Read in a Bright Space

Creating an environment that is conducive to staying awake and alert is crucial. The first thing you should do is turn on the lights in your room. You should even consider getting a reading light if the regular lights aren’t bright enough. Making sure you’re in a well-lit environment will reduce the chances of falling asleep.

Wake Yourself up Before Reading

If you have a book you need to finish, you can try waking yourself up before you start reading. Do some light exercise to keep your body active or drink a cup of coffee to get caffeinated. When you start reading and are attentive, you are more likely to stay awake for your book’s ending.

Is Sleeping While Watching TV a Good Idea?

Many say that sleeping with the TV on helps them sleep. However, is that really such a good idea?

Experts agree that it is not a good idea to sleep while watching TV. Sleeping with the TV on negatively affects your health as it causes an increase in your blue light exposure, which increases your risk for obesity, diabetes, and other adverse health issues.

Nevertheless, it is not all bad news to sleep with the TV on. Some people may find it useful for a better night’s sleep. Various studies have been done to look at the effect of technology on sleep. The agreement seems similar: if you can refrain from using technology in bed, you should.

Reasons You Should Not Sleep With Your TV On

Sleeping with your TV on may not be the best idea; many studies have shown the effects of technology on your sleep.

Here are some reasons why you should not sleep with your TV on:

Increases Sleep Debt

Experts recommend adults get 8 hours of sleep every night. If you sleep less than eight hours, you have a sleep debt. For example, if you sleep 6 hours, you have a sleep debt of 2 hours. A 2016 study shows that it takes approximately four days to recover from one hour of sleep debt. 

You should avoid sleep debt whenever possible. Research shows that watching TV and using other technology devices before bed reduces your sleep hours, and sleep debt reduces your ability to think clearly.

Decrease in Melatonin Production

Melatonin is the hormone that helps us sleep. It signals your body when it’s time to rest. TVs and other devices produce blue light, which may reduce the body’s ability to produce melatonin. The brain may find it challenging to distinguish day and night.

When your brain thinks it is daytime in the middle of the night, it will be difficult for you to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Stimulates the Brain

When the TV is on, your brain is receiving stimuli. A stimulated brain is active, making it hard to fall asleep. When your brain is stimulated, you will not get the rest you need. Most people have a restless sleep when the TV is on.

Moreover, when your TV is on, there is too much going on: changes in sound, flashing lights, and more can jolt you awake. Your brain will still catch some of the dialogue on TV as you fall asleep before you get to the deepest part of your sleep cycle. Sleeping with the TV on can also lead to nightmares, which will decrease the quality and quantity of your sleep.

Negatively Affects Your Health

Sleeping with your TV on can increase your risk of obesity, even if there is no decrease in the quality of sleep received. Having the TV on while you sleep leads to less sleep. Without sufficient sleep, the chances of having health problems such as

  • High blood pressure.
  • Memory loss.
  • Weakened immunity.
  • Increased risk of heart problems.
  • Decrease in sex drive.
  • Increased risk of diabetes.
  • Mood swings.

Reasons Why Sleeping With Your TV on May Not Be That Bad

Sleeping with your TV on can have some adverse effects, as discussed above. However, some experts think it may not be the worst idea.

Here are some reasons why sleeping with the TV on is not so bad:

  • It acts as white noise. White noise is an effective sleep aid. Many people leave the TV on when sleeping as the hum of the TV acts as white noise that helps them sleep better, as the background noise comforts them.
  • It has less blue light than other devices. A TV emits less blue light than other devices such as laptops, phones, and tablets. The less blue light a device emits, the less it harms your sleep.
  • Familiar sounds can help reduce stress. Some studies show that falling asleep in familiar fictional worlds can reduce stress and help self-control. It is okay if you need to sleep with the TV on once in a while; however, have a show you are familiar with. Go for low-key shows and avoid too much noise or news alerts. Set a timer to shut off your TV after some time to prevent exposing yourself to blue light the whole night.

You might also want to read: Best TVs for Bedrooms

Proper Sleep Hygiene

Falling asleep watching TV or reading a book could signify bad sleep hygiene. Some of the tips for proper sleep hygiene include:

  • Have an appropriate sleep schedule. You should go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Avoid consuming caffeinated drinks. Caffeine can stay in your body for many hours, so consuming it before bed could prevent you from getting your much-needed rest.
  • Do not eat too close to your bedtime. Large meals will engage your digestive system, and going to bed while actively digesting food will decrease your sleep quality.
  • Avoid exercising at night. If you can, you should avoid exercising too close to your bedtime. Workouts can keep you active for long periods, so it’s best to do them first thing in the morning.

Bottom Line

Falling asleep while watching TV or reading a book can be an annoying habit. Not only can it prevent you from getting through any book or TV show, but many experts warn against the dangers of this habit. Sleeping with your TV on can reduce the amount and quality of sleep you get, reduce melatonin production, and disrupt your sleep schedule.

Related: Is It Good or Bad to Listen to Music While Sleeping?

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