Why you shouldn’t be sleeping with the TV on

Relaxing to the laughs on Jimmy Kimmel or catching up on your DVR of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills may help you drift off to sleep, but if you leave the TV on all night, you could be doing real damage to your waistline.

Scientists at the National Institute of Health analyzed health and lifestyle data on 43,722 U.S. women aged 35 to 74 who enrolled in a larger study about risk factors for breast cancer and other diseases. While women who used a small nightlight were found to maintain their weight, those who dozed with light or television on were 17 percent more likely to have packed on 11 pounds over the course of the five-year period. The study results were recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Never make these mistakes when sleeping
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Never make these mistakes when sleeping

1. Turning phones and screens to 'night mode.'

57% of the students said they use the "night shift" mode on their phones to reduce light intake.

Romiszewski said that all light, no matter how dim, reduces the amount of melatonin — the hormone that prepares our body for sleep — we produce. By looking at your phone at night, you are effectively fighting off your "wind-down" process, and keeping yourself awake. The same goes for television and laptop screens.

2. Falling asleep to music.

40% of students said they listen to classical or relaxing music.

Listening to music is fine as long as what you are listening to is relaxing and doesn't increase your heart rate, according to Romiszewski. But make sure you set a timer to turn the music off, otherwise you won't enter the phase of deep sleep you need to wake up refreshed.

3. Exercising before bed.

34% of those surveyed said they exercise before bed.

Exercise is a great way to tire ourselves out, but if you work out just before bed, you'll make it more difficult for your body to relax afterwards, Romiszewski said. It's best to exercise during the day, or at least a few hours before you plan on going to sleep.

4. Writing things down to clear your head.

29% of the students said they write things down to clear their heads before hitting the hay.

It's a good idea to write things down, but you should ensure you do it at least an hour before you go to bed so you can deal with any thoughts that pop up. Otherwise, you'll probably still be thinking about what you wrote when you're lying down. If you write a to-do list, Romiszewski said you should make sure it's full of achievable things.

5. Using relaxation and sleep-tracking apps before bed.

23% of students surveyed use mobile relaxation apps like Headspace, or sleep-tracking apps.

These sorts of apps are helpful, but they're not that great if you only use them at night, according to Romiszewski. To really get the benefits of meditation, you should try using them more frequently during the day. It's not a short-term fix, so you need to see using these kinds of apps as a long-term lifestyle change.

Also, apps that track your sleep probably are more trouble than they're worth. They can make you more anxious if you see that you're not getting the sleep you want.

6. "Getting ready" for bed right before you want to sleep.

Getting ready for bed can be counter-productive.

Romiszewski said putting on pyjamas, changing the sheets, and brushing your teeth can all be unhelpful when you're trying to wind down. You should get ready for bed at least an hour before you want to sleep, so you make time to relax afterwards.

7. Focusing on number of hours instead of quality of sleep.

Quality is better than quantity, and it's not all about sleep duration. In fact, Romiszewski said it's better to wait until you feel tired to go to bed, rather than worrying about what time it is. Short, unbroken sleep is more beneficial to you than more time in bed not sleeping.

8. Napping during the day.

41% of students admitted to falling asleep in lectures.

Napping during the day is a pretty bad idea. It steals away the tiredness you'll feel later on, so your body will have to build it up again before you can sleep.

To get into a healthy sleep pattern, get up at the same time every day, no matter how tired you are, according to Romiszewski. This will be hard at first if you've slept badly, but you'll be setting yourself up well for the next evening. Before too long, you'll be in a good sleep cycle, and probably find you're laying awake staring at the ceiling a lot less.

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The scientists speculated that the sleep hormone melatonin was suppressed when the artificial light from the TV disrupted the women’s circadian rhythms. Other factors may have played a role in the weight gain results, as well, though the study results were controlled for age, having an older spouse or children in the home, race, socioeconomic status, calories consumed, and physical activity. Check out these ways to naturally reset your circadian rhythms.

“Although poor sleep by itself was associated with obesity and weight gain, it did not explain the associations between exposure to artificial light while sleeping and weight,” said corresponding author Dale Sandler, PhD, chief of the Epidemiology Branch at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of NIH, in a press release. There are a number of sneaky things that make you gain weight.

“Unhealthy high-calorie diet and sedentary behaviors have been the most commonly cited factors to explain the continuing rise in obesity,” notes Lead author Yong-Moon (Mark) Park, M.D., PhD. “This study highlights the importance of artificial light at night and gives women who sleep with lights or the television on a way to improve their health.” Here are 50 more health secrets women older than 50 need to know.

The post Why You Shouldn’t Be Sleeping with the TV On appeared first on Reader's Digest.

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