Woman watching tv in bed

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NEWARK, Del. — Can’t fall asleep without having the TV on while in bed? Turns out you may be doing yourself a favor. Research reveals that catching up on your favorite sitcom or listening to some music before bedtime could ensure a better night’s sleep.

There’s no shortage of studies warning that exposure to screens in bed could disrupt sleep patterns. One study shows that even exposure to a small amount of light can harm a child’s sleep rhythms. this latest study suggests that that watching a show for an hour or less in bed before “lights out” can actually lead to a longer slumber.

The caveat though — you’ll sleep better as long as there is no multitasking involved.

For the research, 58 adults kept a diary for recording information related to time spent using media before bed, the location of the usage, and how much multitasking each person did. Researchers examined how sleep might be impacted by media use, such as watching movies, TV, YouTube videos, browsing the Internet, or listening to music. Electroencephalography — tests that detect electrical activity in the brain using small metal discs attached to the scalp — captured measurements such as bedtime, total sleep time, and sleep quality.

If you watch TV in bed, ‘keep it a short, focused session’

Study lead author Dr. Morgan Ellithorpe from the University of Delaware reports that brief media use led to participants getting to bed earlier in the night. If they avoided multitasking while in bed, these participants also slept longer than their peers.

However, participants spending long periods of time online or watching TV ended up sleeping less. Interestingly, the team did not find a link between sleep quality and media use before bed.

“If you are going to use media, like watching TV or listening to music, before bed, keep it a short, focused session and you are unlikely to experience any negative outcomes in your sleep that night,” Dr. Ellithorpe says in a media release.

The study is published in the Journal of Sleep Research.

South West News Service writer Stephen Beech contributed to this report.

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