🪷 Wellbeing

Mar 28, 2024

6 min read

Why You THINK You NEED To Watch Videos Before Going To Bed

Why You THINK You NEED To Watch Videos Before Going To Bed

Struggling to break the habit of watching videos before bed? Understand the psychology behind it and its implications for health, productivity and focus.

Your bedtime has arrived. You slip into your sheets and... reach for your phone to watch a "relaxing" video before falling asleep. Did you know this (bad) habit could be easily resolved?

It's a habit many of us have: watching a relaxing video on the internet, an episode of a series, or even a movie to help us fall asleep, because "otherwise, I can't sleep".

Initially, it's a solution to the dread of insomnia, but then it becomes more frequent, eventually turning indispensable. It doesn't take long for this detrimental habit to become entrenched in our daily lives.

But what really happens? Why are we so convinced that we can't fall asleep without a video? Today, we're doing our best to answer this question and provide you with simple and concrete solutions.

Why Rely on a Screen to Fall Asleep?

The bedtime phase is often a moment between us and our minds. Nothing happens, no external stimulation. It's often a dreaded moment for many of us: as our minds have nothing to do, they start to ponder, to think.

Michael Breus (Doctor Sleep) explains: "In my insomnia practice, 40-50 percent of patients require a distraction to fall asleep [...] You get in bed, turn off the light, and it's quiet. All the thoughts come rushing back in. "There's a thing called autonomic arousal—things like heart rate, anxiety, muscle tension—they rise as you think about a stressful thing. You can't enter into unconscious sleep while those are at an elevated level. Watching TV is a passive activity, you let the stimuli float over you and eventually, you're asleep."

As Dr. Michael Breus explains, many of us can feel overwhelmed by dark thoughts, self-doubts, making this falling asleep phase unpleasant. The first reflex many have: entertain the brain until the last moment to avoid this moment of reflection. Thus, according to studies, nearly 95% of Americans are said to need a screen to fall asleep at night.

| Watching TV and video generated brainwaves associated with pleasant, wakeful relaxation and absorbed cognitive capacity, taking viewers’ minds off other things —Patrick Barwise et al., 2019

For this, there are several solutions: YouTube videos, binge-watching series, live streams on Twitch, or simply scrolling until your eyes close. But while this may seem like an effective solution, it doesn't seem to have only positive points and has real impacts on our health.


Pursuit of Immediate Well-Being

One of the most popular types of videos in recent years for falling asleep faster is ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response). ASMR is described as "a distinct, pleasant or unpleasant sensation of tingling or shivers in the head, scalp, or peripheral areas of the body, in response to a visual, auditory, olfactory, or cognitive stimulus." (Wikipedia)

In other words, it represents not only a desire to distract the mind but also to achieve a form of immediate well-being. This well-being is neither sensual nor maternal but is provided by physical sensations stimulated by whispers from strangers. For an average duration of 20 minutes, you are tended to by a video creator who performs fictional clinical exams, hairstyles, makeup, and more. All these efforts aim to help you relax, let go, and sleep better.

| "For many, it's the only time we'll have another adult, not directly connected to us, who will give us a form of attention, show interest in us." —Interview BehindTheMoons by Hardisk

Naturally, one might wonder: do we lack attention in our daily lives to require fictional care? But also, are our days positive enough to avoid thinking about them at night?

Long-Term Consequences

What we don't see when consuming digital content at night are the long-term impacts. It's difficult to foresee. However, it's important to note that such habits are not without consequences, especially on health.

First, watching content on a screen inevitably delays the moment of falling asleep. Instead of going to bed around 11 PM, we find ourselves still awake around 1 AM. Depending on the wake-up time, not everyone manages to get the minimum recommended 7 hours of sleep.

Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, succinctly captures this situation by stating, "When you watch a series on Netflix and you get hooked, you stay up late into the night. At the margin, we are competing with sleep. That's a lot of time." Indeed, Netflix's competitor isn't Disney+, it's your sleep.

Moreover, the issue with screens is that they are not always turned off the moment our eyes close, but rather later in the night, either when the phone falls or a noise awakens us. Consequently, we interrupt our sleep to turn off the device. This seemingly benign action is, however, a major cause of sleep disturbances.

Thirdly, the quality of sleep with screens is not as rejuvenating. Studies indicate that nearly 20% of people falling asleep with a screen report feeling tired upon waking up. Experts assert that while one bad night's sleep isn't considered "serious," an accumulation of bad nights can significantly deteriorate the quality of life, leading to symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, or even a form of depression in daily life.

Finally, studies have established a link between artificial light (especially that generated by screens), sleep quality, and weight gain. Experts suggest that excessive exposure to artificial light at bedtime could lead to significant weight gain.

Don’t worry, TikTok will always be around

But your

won't wait.

Better Screen Time

Made simple. See by yourself.

⚡️

💜

🔒

⌨️

🌿

🌿

🌙

Don’t worry, TikTok will always be around

But your

won't wait.

Better Screen Time

Made simple. See by yourself.

⚡️

💜

🔒

⌨️

🌿

🌿

🌙

Don’t worry, TikTok will always be around

But your

won't wait.

Better Screen Time

All made simple. See by yourself.

⚡️

💜

🔒

⌨️

🌿

🌿

🌙

Don’t worry, TikTok will always be around

But your

won't wait.

Better Screen Time

All made simple. See by yourself.

Correcting This Bad Habit

Clearly, binge-watching, spending time on social media, and delaying sleep are not sustainable practices in the long run. It's advisable to alter these habits promptly. But don't worry, as always, we've researched the topic and compiled the best tips for you. Let's get practical!

😌 Clear Your Mind

As mentioned earlier, the reason we consume content late at night is primarily due to the influx of negative thoughts that overwhelm us. To counteract this, it's advisable to capture and extract them from our minds. Rest assured, we won't be suggesting any voodoo rituals.

Instead, we'll recommend the journaling technique. If you're not familiar with this practice, it's straightforward, inexpensive, and quick to implement. The concept involves reviewing your day: noting what went well, what could have been improved, what you learned, and what you're grateful for. Here's an excellent example of journaling.

🧹 Rearrange Your Space

Resisting the temptations of television, iPads, iPhones, and computers is not easy. To aid our brain in resisting, it's best to remove all these devices from your bedroom. Transform this space into a screen-free zone.

To ease the transition, it's crucial to introduce replacement activities, preferably those that are non-stimulating. For this purpose, place books or articles that interest you by your bedside. It might be somewhat challenging to enjoy at first, especially if you're not accustomed to it. However, the love for reading develops with reading!

🧘‍♂️ A Little Bit of Mindfulness

If you feel like you really need sound or a voice to fall asleep to, then consider opting for guided meditations or white noise (such as nature sounds). The goal is to soothe your mind with relaxing sounds, all without a screen! If your budget allows, you could explore white noise machines like the Morphée box.

Alternatively, you can choose apps like Calm, Headspace, or Petit Bambou, which don't require the screen to be turned on to deliver their content, unlike YouTube, for example. Note that many ASMR content creators are also available on podcast platforms (such as Spotify).

👍️ Taking Care Of Your Days

One common phenomenon leading to screen use before bedtime is "Revenge Bedtime Procrastination." This occurs when we feel our days aren't interesting enough and we're not satisfied enough to move on to the next day. As a result, we tend to delay sleep as much as possible to compensate.

To avoid this phenomenon, it's best to strive for more positive and fulfilling days. To achieve this, it's recommended to limit time spent on social media, avoid aimlessly scrolling, and steer clear of ultra-time-consuming services (which not only consume our time but also sap our motivation to accomplish more meaningful tasks). Therefore, try to better manage your waking hours to prevent them from infringing on your rest time.

🌙 Blocking Distractions after 11 PM

Because willpower alone is sometimes not enough, consider using an app blocker. We recommend Jomo, which is available for free on iPhone and Mac. With Jomo, you can block video content apps from a certain hour, ideally 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes before bedtime. Simply add a session by going to Rules > Sessions > + > Schedule Blocking Session. Add your apps, set the appropriate times, disable breaks, and start!

You can also take it a step further by combining a blocking session with a Focus Mode on your iPhone. We explain everything in detail right here.

If you thought you were the only one unable to fall asleep without screens, you're mistaken. However, that doesn't mean it's a healthy habit; quite the opposite, in fact. Resisting is no small feat, especially considering that Netflix and other streaming giants have optimized everything to outcompete their main rival: your sleep. So, don't hesitate to implement tips—whether these or others—to help you disconnect from screens and sleep peacefully!


🎉 This article is also available on YouTube
🔗 Health ; Sleep Center ; CDC ; Vice ; ResearchGate ; Hardisk
✋ Illustrations by Jomo ; Photography Unsplash