Why Watching Netflix Before Bed Is a Bad Idea

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We already know that we’re in the middle of what the CDC is calling a “public health epidemic” with regards to how much sleep we’re not getting. We know a couple of the reasons we’re all sleeping badly, too (mostly, it’s poor sleep hygiene). But now there’s some new evidence that suggests our restlessness is due to the same thing that frequently causes us to lose entire Saturdays without even realizing what we’ve done until it’s over: Procrastination. And by procrastination, we mean “too much Netflix.”

A lot of research has been done on procrastination with regards to, say, school or work-related tasks, but not a lot of it has hitherto been done on how it relates to sleep. A new study, however, changes all that by looking into what happens to our bodies when we delay health-related tasks like, y’know, sleeping. For the study, Floor Kroese of the University of Utrecht surveyed 177 people she recruited via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing marketplace. The survey asked participants about their sleep habits, using their level of agreement with statements like “I go to bed later than I had intended” to measure whether they were sleep procrastinators. Kroes found that not only is sleep procrastination quite common, but moreover, those who delay going to bed get less sleep overall and subsequently more tired during the day.

Except most of us usually aren't that cute.

So here's how Netflix fits into the whole thing: Thanks to it and things like it (Amazon Prime and Hulu, I'm looking at you), our television habits have undergone a pretty massive transformation. The Washington Post reported in 2011 that 78 percent of people watch more than five hours of TV online per week, and “binge-watching” has even become a common phrase in our cultural lexicon. Watching TV online via Netflix or what have you is like eating a can of Pringles: Once you pop, you just can’t stop.

I’m willing to go out on a limb and say it’s even worse if you do your Netflix watching while actually in bed. I don’t have a television in my bedroom, but once something tablet-esque entered my life, I developed a terrible habit of watching Don’t Trust the B- in Apartment 23 once I’d snuggled myself under my blankets. Don’t do that. If you thought it was easy to go, “Just one more episode…” when you’re sitting on your couch, just wait til you’re already in bed and saying the same thing. Add to that the fact that using your bed for anything other than sleeping will generally guarantee you a bad night’s sleep, and, well… You get where I’m going with this.

I no longer allow myself to watch cancelled sitcoms on my Kindle Fire before bed.

The big thing we have to be careful of, though, is the affect sleep procrastination has on our health. We took a look at this infographic from the Huffington Post a little while ago, but let’s give ourselves a refresher (click to view the whole thing):

Not so good. So let’s make an effort to put away the Netflix and get to bed on time, okay? Our future depends on it. But first...