If you are someone who has trouble turning off your TV or device because you want to find out what happens in the next episode, this could affect your performance at work or at school, as well as your wellbeing. Learn how to control your time.
Medical advisor María Isabel Montes Gaviria – Clinical neurologist, subspecialist in Sleep Medicine
Sleeping for less than six hours per night has become a habit for many people, since digital platforms hooked the public on series, and have provided the possibility for people to watch episode after episode in one go.
This routine, which may seem enjoyable, influences your wellbeing by altering your sleep cycle, causing repercussions in your behavior the next day and affecting your work, academic, and social routines.
Clinical neurologist María Isabel Montes Gaviria, subspecialist in Sleep Medicine, explains that in general, attachment to electronic devices, such as the TV and online platforms, has led many individuals to be nocturnal as a result of the anxiety of wanting to see the next episode. By stealing sleep time, “the circadian rhythm is altered,” which is the human body’s natural cycle during the 24 hours in a day.
Dr. Montes states that prolonged exposure to electronic devices and screens can cause initial insomnia, which is having difficulty falling asleep, since the person is highly engaged with the information received while watching the series.
In the words of the clinical psychologist, what is worrying is that if this habit goes on for too long, insomnia can become chronic and trigger disorders later on that are related to anxiety, depression, chronic headaches, and the constant feeling of fatigue.
Also, chronic insomnia has the potential to lead to cardiovascular and heart disease, and can cause a greater risk of high blood pressure and diabetes – all for sleeping less than six hours.
In addition to this, light activity produced by the devices causes a delay in the body’s secretion of melatonin, which is the hormone that regulates the rhythm of sleep.
Enjoy in moderation
Establishing regular and prudent schedules is the main recommendation, leaving enough time to sleep for the number of hours suggested for your age. The World Health Organization states that in order to maintain optimal physical, emotional, and mental health, one should sleep an average of between seven and eight hours per night.
To meet this average, it is necessary to establish good sleep hygiene, which starts one hour before going to bed. During this time before closing your eyes, Dr. Montes suggests doing a relaxing activity such as talking to someone, meditating, doing yoga, or painting. Something that requires you to think about something different than the series, so that the information you received when watching this audiovisual content does not disrupt your sleep.
Other guidelines for maintaining good sleep hygiene include to make your room comfortable, making sure it is quiet and is not too cold or too hot, avoid drinking coffee in the afternoon, do exercise at least two hours before sleeping, have only one alarm during the day, and try not to look at the time often at night to avoid anxiety. •
Watching series for a prolonged amount of time before sleeping can have effects on your sleep, since your subconscious retains the information received and makes your sleep less enjoyable.
Creating the habit is key
We must recognize the factors that prevent us from achieving a sleep that guarantees having a good day the next day.
- Avoid going to bed thinking about pending problems, activities, or concerns. Make a list or write them down in a journal and go to sleep.
- Doing physical activity or intense exercise before going to sleep is not helpful. Prepare yourself for sleeping with yoga or stretching. Ideally it should be a gentle activity.
- You need to tell your brain about a change in routine. Therefore, dimming the lights, turning off electronic devices, and reading a hardcopy book makes it easier to transition into the night.
- Making going to bed and waking up at the same time a routine will help your brain create patterns to disconnect. Start adjusting your time to one hour earlier.
- Do not fall into the temptation to self-medicate in order to sleep. Prescriptions should be given by your doctor, as some medications have adverse secondary effects.