Make Better Sleep Habits a Priority Today

It can be hard to sleep smart.

In our increasingly digital age, screens and streams have the potential to keep us up much later than we’d like, making us cranky during the following work day. Don’t worry; it’s happening to everyone.

It’s a familiar story: Netflix asks, “Are you still watching?” We make an agreement with our chosen streamer: just one more episode before bed. One more episode might turn into the rest of the season and maybe some of the next season.

Bingeing happens, but it could be intruding on how you function in your daily life.

Bingeing Before Bed Has Become a Habit

According to the Sleep Foundation, watching TV before bed is the top ritual for adults. 72.6% of those polled admit to watching TV before bad, going so far as to call it a habit. 50% of the adults who watch TV before bed say they get seven hours or less of sleep each night.

88.6% of Americans binge-watch a show at least once a month, while 80.6% say their TV habits have “stayed the same or increased” since the start of the pandemic.

The top bedtime rituals for Americans are watching TV (52.7%), taking a bath (32%), talking to a partner (22.9%), and reading a book (20.4%).

Some of the least popular rituals might be the ones that are the best for your sleep health.

The least popular practices include yoga (9.6%) and exercise (10.6%). Meanwhile, 16.6% of Americans admit to checking email before bed, further evidence that suggests finding a work/life balance can be challenging at a moment when so many Americans are working remotely.

It’s Only TV, Right?

“My husband needed to have the television to fall asleep at night,” says Jenny Smith, a Functional Medicine Health Coach. She was the exact opposite, needing quiet in the bedroom in order to fall asleep. Like most married couples, Smith had to find a compromise. “We would get in bed with the TV on but turn it off once we went to sleep,” she explains.

Today, Smith and her husband have eliminated TV from their bedtime routine, choosing healthier rituals instead.

“Watching TV or being on your phone prevents our brains from producing melatonin naturally,” Smith told us. In addition to blue-blocking glasses, she recommends that people stop their exposure to blue light at least two hours before bed.

It’s all about setting our circadian clock. She recommends exposure to the sun within the first few minutes of waking up. And at night time? “Dimming lights in your house as soon as the sun goes down is helpful for excellent rest,” she says.

Sleep Habits & Disorders: You Are Not Alone

Between 50 and 70 million adults have a sleep disorder, which could explain why so many people feel the need to watch TV before bed. Rituals we think that may help us sleep could, in fact, contribute to the underlying problems.

Sleep disorders come in many forms, from snoring — which affects 48% of the population — to insomnia. Approximately 30% of the population experiences insomnia, while 10% report chronic insomnia.

Healthy sleep habits start with finding the right bedtime routine that works for you and your interests. Not everyone will want to journal before bed, but some find it beneficial. Other pre-bedtime rituals that people find helpful are having a cup of tea, meditating, or reading a good book.

Some people recommend that you “prep your bedroom.” This process might include decluttering your room, drawing the curtains, or turning on an essential oil diffuser. It’s a theatrical process that seeks to tell your body: Okay, time for sleep.

Healthy TV Habits: Can They Be Achieved?

Finding the best bedtime ritual will vary from person to person, and there will still be people who want to watch TV before bed. And let’s face it, sometimes you want to watch one more episode, and that’s okay.

“Watching TV before bed can be part of a healthy, sleep-promoting wind-down routine if done correctly,” says Jeff Kahn, CEO, and co-founder of Rise Science. Kahn has written extensively on sleep habits.

He recommends wearing blue-light-blocking glasses and keeping the lights low if you watch TV before bed. And as for that desire to binge? Kahn says to pick something episodic, not serialized. “A cliffhanger rather than a show with a neat bow at the end causes our brains to race and challenges a smooth ride into sleep,” he told us.

For sleep experts like Kahn, the bedroom environment is as important as the activities you engage in. That means making sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet.

With so many streaming platforms and binge-watching opportunities, it may be hard to practice a healthy bedtime routine. Still, following some of these steps could make a small difference, ensuring you get the rest you need for a better tomorrow.

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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.


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Justin McDevitt is a playwright and essayist from New York City. His latest play HAUNT ME had its first public reading at Theater for the New City in September. He is a contributor for RUE MORGUE where he lends a queer eye to horror cinema in his column STAB ME GENTLY.