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To TV Or Not To TV, That Is The Question

Adrienne Samuels Gibbs

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To TV or not to TV... that is the question. How does your TV impact your sleep and what can you do to wind-down before bed?

Many experts agree, including those from
Web MD, that optimal sleep stems from having a peaceful bedroom environment, sans a TV. But let's be real — many people have a television front and center in their sleep sanctuary. So, what should you consider?

It's easy to tell the average Joe or Jane to chuck the boob tube because it's bad feng shui, according to Prevention, and to refrain from watching the season finale of "Game of Thrones" from the comfort of their bed because it creates anxiety. 

Many therapists, such as those in this Brides article, have posited that sex could suffer and communication could decline if a couple has a bedroom TV. 

But many experts believe a responsible adult can have a television in the bedroom and still get a good night's rest.

Practice Mindfulness

TVs don't necessarily need to be banned if a person can master their viewing desires by practicing mindfulness, says Aarti Tejuja, with Shambhala Meditation Centers.

"It's sometimes difficult to get to sleep if your mind is churning," says Tejuja. "Some of the things you can do, in terms of applying mindfulness, is maybe you don't go to sleep. Get up and try to focus on the feelings coming up in your body at the moment. It's not so much asking yourself what feelings are coming up, but more like being able to sit with those things that are rising. Those thoughts should be acknowledged and released so you can then get some rest.

"All that stuff is a lot of live wire energy in the body," she says. "You're creating energy and it's gonna keep you up."

Self-Awareness Is Key

Georgia Jones, with Chicago Mindful Psychotherapy, recommends a similar technique of self-awareness to compensate for the electronic presence — especially if you just watched the season finale to an intense show. 

Jones also suggest being deliberate with your bedroom TV watching. Don't leave it on all the time for background noise. If you decide to watch, watch the movie or the TV show and then shut down the set and work on centering your mind so you can gain restful sleep.

How does this work after a stressful episode of "Law and Order: SVU?"

"There's no need to change how you're breathing, just breathe normally and silently in your head and in a gentle, internal tone of voice count one, two, three," says Jones. "Count up as far as you can get, and if you lose track but are still awake, just start over. This is a way to gently focus your attention and 'turn off' discursive thinking."

Re-evaluate Your TV Habits

The TV alone is not the enemy, says Jones. Rather, it is a tool. If watching TV in bed makes you too jumpy to sleep, then it might be time to be more mindful of how your body reacts to the show by re-evaluating what you're watching or to adjust the time at which you watch it.

If you can't bring your energy down after watching a show, Jones suggests taking the time to think about your body and to "quietly notice any sensations that are there, relaxing tension if there is any."

Check in with each body part and examine it. Once any anxiety is identified, work on relaxing that body part before moving on to the next. Noticing your body is what matters, say mindfulness experts.

Turn it Off for Quality Sleep

The experts at Sleep Number do not recommend falling asleep with the TV on as the variations in sound and bright lights can disturb you and your sleep partners sleep cycles which may make you more tired when waking. You may not think you're waking up, but the subtle disruptions add up, leaving you feeling less than stellar.

"We should be more mindful of our actions before we go to bed," says Tejuja. "What is it that we're doing before we go to sleep? Sometimes people just have a lot on their minds. I've heard people say it helps me to sleep with the TV on. That has to do a lot with laying there in bed, and you have a really rough day, or you've had stuff going on in your life. That stuff will be churning. That's what's happening."

But in the end, if a TV must be present in the bedroom, watch with purpose. Then take the time to wind down the mind before nodding off to sleep. Try reading these books before bed, recommended by Sleep Number employees: Three books to maintain positivity and mindfulness.

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Like diet and exercise, quality sleep has a profound impact on our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. Because no two people sleep the same, Sleep Number 360
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Adrienne Samuels Gibbs writes leadership bios, consumer-oriented features and arts and culture content for outlets such as Netflix, Forbes, Ebony, Chicago Sun-Times and NBC.


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