DAVID BROWN: Streaming, sleep and me
We all miss things from when we were growing up, as the past tends to get romanticized into an idyllic setting, but one thing I really took for granted way back when was sleep.
I can barely remember the joys of falling into bed and sound asleep in mere minutes. The ability to actually sleep in on weekends – the only time I was up in the a.m. on Saturdays as a kid was because I wanted to watch cartoons like Hong Kong Phooey. The absolute wonder of feeling relaxed and refreshed after closing your eyes for eight hours or more with sweet dreams.
Then you get older, when just getting to sleep is your new dream and staying asleep becomes merely an illusion, a goal that always seems just out of reach. You can’t sleep on your back, one side or the other because it hurts too much. You sigh and make a trek to the restroom every other hour. And you lie awake in the morning wondering just where in the heck last night went.
A while back, a speaker asked members of the Murphy Rotary Club if anyone had trouble sleeping. Every single hand in the room went up, some raising both arms for emphasis.
Sadly, the problem is getting worse. And we only have ourselves to blame.
Think about this: If you only spend two hours a day on Facebook, you’re spending 1/12th of your time on it, which adds up to one month every year! Do you really want to dedicate that much of your life to social media? No wonder even millennials today are finding sleep hard to come by.
Since someone studies everything nowadays, there is a sleep startup called Tuck.com. They conducted a survey of 1,394 Americans earlier this year that produced some interesting results, particularly as it comes to our viewing habits:
* 53 percent of Americans get 5-6 hours of sleep or less on weekdays, well below the recommended 7.5-8 hours.
* Streaming platforms, like Netflix and Hulu, constantly disrupt sleep for 35 percent of Americans.
* More than 12 percent of Americans stay up all night binge-watching television shows more than five times a year.
I confess that I’m one of the more than 70 percent of Americans who typically fall asleep with the TV on (don’t judge me) as well as among the 85 percent of adults Tuck.com’s survey says watch streaming content while they’re in bed.
That’s partly because my bedtime has moved from 3 a.m. in my 20s to midnight in my 30s to 11 p.m. in my 40s to 10 or even 9 p.m. today. It also could be because I’m in the age group most prone to streaming more than three hours per day.
What kinda stuff are we watching instead of sleeping? Comedy is tops at 58 percent, followed by action/adventure and drama. The 10 shows most folks binge on starts with Orange is the New Black (which my wife and daughter tell me is a real thing) and includes two things I actually watch, Stranger Things and The Walking Dead (albeit only one episode at a time to make them last).
How streaming disrupts sleep is far too technical for this mild-mannered journalist, but I can report that TVs, tablets and smartphone emit blue wavelengths of light, which happens to be the one our brain perceives the most intensely, keeping us up instead of letting us drift away.
To help, here are some handy pro tips to better sleep from Tuck.com:
* Stop watching streaming content while lying in bed.
* Use the red-light filter on your streaming device.
* Schedule your TV and sleep.
* Turn off autoplay settings.
* Power down 30 minutes before bed.
I personally recommend a warm cup of Sleepytime Tea. Happy snoozing!
David Brown is publisher of the Cherokee Scout. You can reach him by phone, 837-5122; fax, 837-5832; and email, firstname.lastname@example.org; plus follow him on Twitter @daviddBstroh.