Just how dangerous is a doze in front of the television?

I have become aware of a strange phenomenon of ageing – I fall asleep readily in front of the TV.

Over the last few years it has started to become embarrassing, not least because I used to tell my own parents off for doing the same thing.

Just the other night I was avidly watching a Netflix film.

…and next thing I know I am waking up, the film has finished and Lara is on her way to bed with a cup of cocoa.

It’s worse when I drink wine.

I was reminded of an article I read in Wales Online last month which said that “sleeping with the television on can even lead to a higher risk of obesity, heart disease and lower sex drive.”


The info was apparent from ‘experts’ at a bed manufacturing company, so I’m not 100% convinced.

However I do recall writing a Good Life Letter about a decade ago about similar research into how falling asleep in front of the telly can make you depressed.

It was all about those who have TV’s in their bedrooms and fall asleep with them still on, rather than the likes of me who occasionally drop off at the end of the day.

Seems that the effect of the low level light when we are sleeping interferes with our bodies’ normal function.

You see we need it to be dark to achieve the perfect deep sleep, and this is important as this is the restorative kind and allows us to properly relax.

This was confirmed by a study in Ohio which found that hamsters who spent their nights exposed to dim light – the equivalent of having a television on in a dark room – displayed more signs of depression.

There can be other issues too…

  • The light emitted by TVs, particularly blue light, can interfere with the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. This can lead to poorer sleep quality and difficulty falling asleep.
  • Regular exposure to light at night, including from a TV, can contribute to sleep disorders like insomnia.
  • Poor sleep quality due to light and noise from the TV can lead to daytime sleepiness and fatigue
  • The noise and stimulation from a TV can keep the brain more alert and active, preventing the deep, restorative stages of sleep.
  • Studies have suggested a correlation between exposure to light at night and obesity, possibly due to disrupted circadian rhythms and altered metabolism.
  • Keeping the TV on might encourage staying up later than intended, disrupting a consistent sleep schedule/

Anyway, I guess it depends on your situation…

For some people, especially those who live along, having the TV on provides a sense of comfort and relaxation, which might help them fall asleep, especially if they live alone or are used to background noise.

The TV can serve as a distraction for people who might otherwise lie in bed ruminating over stressors or anxieties, preventing them from falling asleep.

But if you do have sleep problems, it could be worth trying to wean yourself off the telly last thing at night, and see what happens.

As for my habit of nodding off to Netflix…

Apparently the odd doze in front TV at night isn’t going to do much harm by all accounts – it’s just a bit embarrassing when your family wake you up to complain they couldn’t hear the dialogue because you were snoring!