I Cannot Fall Asleep Without the TV On!

This used to be me –  for probably 15 years I HAD to have the TV on to fall asleep.  If it wasn’t on, I couldn’t fall asleep because the thoughts in my head would take over!

Then about a year or so ago, I figured out I could fall asleep without the TV on and once I figured out how to, I stopped sleeping with it on, which my husband is very glad about!


So what is so bad about sleeping with the TV on anyway?

The answer is the light that comes from it.  Our bodies produce melatonin when we are getting ready for sleep.  Darkness is a signal to the body to begin producing that melatonin.  When we have the TV on, or are looking at electronics, the production of melatonin is inhibited.

Why did I need it?

Once I learned I could sleep without the TV on, I began to wonder why I needed it in the first place.  I began to think about how I would sleep with it on and I realized I would often turn the volume down so I could barely even hear it.  How could that keep my mind from racing?  I got my answer recently when doing research on helping adults sleep better.  I learned that white noise could help adults, as well as children.  It helps adults by giving the mind something to concentrate on, besides to-do lists and such.  This made perfect sense to me – even though I could barely understand the words that were coming from the TV, there must have been enough sounds to give my mind something to concentrate on.

Want to try some white noise? Here is a great white noise machine that I sleep with every night!  (these are affiliate links which means I will be paid some of your purchase price – but it doesn’t affect what you pay!):

How do I sleep without it?

It was not white noise however that made me start sleeping without the TV on.  I bought a course on mediation, and that’s when I started sleeping with the TV off.  I was not constantly meditating or anything, but now when I am trying to fall asleep and my mind starts wandering, I just concentrate on my breathing.   It does not always work – sometimes I have to jot down some notes in a notepad to really fall asleep, but usually I can fall asleep without too much trouble.

Are you used to sleeping with the TV on?  It’s worth a shot to try turning it off and seeing what happens.

Here is another blog post I wrote with more tips to help you sleep – http://www.sleepwellsleepsolutions.com/adults-need-sleep-too/

I have recently been certified as an Adult Sleep Science Coach and am starting a group sleeping program to help you sleep better!  Check out the Sleep Your Way to Success Program!



by Michelle Winters




This post may contain affiliate links

29 Thoughts on “I Cannot Fall Asleep Without the TV On!

  1. Eh, if it’s a nice quiet, and usually SHORT movie, I’ll just go to beddy bye. Generally (Moves on Amazon for my BED sleep*) are suffiencent, But only alternating or less. I’m just content to have the music or the bedside fan. My mom and I (at different times, we know about each others sleep habiytsd) fall asleep, either in the family room (when NCIS or AMERICA’s GOT TALENT or some Eyewitness or whatever news show is on). or in bed (in my case, Amazon movies.) . But everyone’s different, consulting with family member or doctor works.And everey case like I suggested with the kind of movie (THE FOUNDER about McDonalds, not my fave action pics), every time’s different. Ciao!(Interesting comments, from you all!). Hey, how about in the theatres (I’d do it, consider then I wake up right after the flick or before, if it’s a cheap one..bnut that’s rare, I stay awake in the theatres or drive ins, when I was young. Interesting, and for a SLEEP article, stimulating conversation!)

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  3. Every night for the past year I have to fall asleep with the fan or like white noises I talked to my family about it and they said u could get dependent on the sound and could only fall asleep with it
    But when I’m not concentrating on something like most people commenting my mind goes off to places and I hate it bc I have horrible nightmares
    But when listening to music I’m fine, I want to go to sleep normally and not have to go through the struggle every night and waking up exhausted every morning… any tips

    • Hi – There really is nothing wrong with sleeping with a fan or white noise machine every night. Technically, it is a sleep crutch, and you could be dependent on it, but it is really the most benign thing to be dependent on. If you travel, you can use an app on your phone for white noise, so there really is never a situation where you will have to be without it. This is why I really recommend sleeping with a fan or white noise machine to keep your mind from wandering, keep out outside noises, and get better sleep!

  4. Stephanie on February 8, 2016 at 12:19 am said:

    My husband and I discuss this topic almost daily. I don’t know why but every night I have to be at the very least listening to a show on my iPad. I don’t watch the TV bc I don’t want to disturb my husband therefore, I put my headphones on and I watch something I consider calming like the show Charmed (it’s a favorite of mine) on the iPad. I sometimes even turn it face down so I’m not necessarily actively watching it, but I still listen to it. I will even turn the volume down really low where I can barely hear it but for whatever reason it’s the only way I can go to sleep. I’ve tried to not do this several times but I’ll be up for hours with racing thoughts. I worry about this or that and no matter what I do I can’t seem to stop the anxious thinking long enough to relax. I haven’t always done this or been this way. I contribute it to more recent, somewhat traumatic experiences that have had and continue to have me extremely stressed out. I can’t seem to not dwell or focus on these events when I’m surrounded by quietness particularly at bedtime. My husband doesn’t understand why I don’t just go to sleep and I would love to explain it to him but I don’t understand myself.

    • Hi Stephanie,

      I would suggest you try some white noise. This will give your brain something to focus on, other than your thoughts, but will not be something that will distract you or cause any extra light in your room. You could even get an app on your iPad with white noise if you want to try that first to see if it works. That way you’ll still have the headphones and everything else the same. (By the way – I love Charmed!!) – Michelle

    • Daniele on April 5, 2016 at 8:08 pm said:

      Omg, the exact same thing happens to me. Its crazy.

  5. Ever since I was maybe around 13, I’ve slept with ear phones in my ears listening to music or with the TV on every single night. It started when I would have sleepovers and my friends all use to snore. I don’t know why but I can’t stand snoring so I use to take a CD Walkman with me to listen to while I tried to sleep. Then it started becoming a regular thing and then suddenly I find every little noise in the house use to wake me so I would go to sleep in my own home with headphones in playing music or with the TV on. I’m now 22 and nothings changed. I don’t listen to music with ear plugs though. I now only fall asleep with the TV on but any noise from outside will wake me so I put my ear plugs in and normally go straight back to sleep. It’s an absolute pain to be like this. My parent has slept on the sofa for year now as I can’t sleep next to him as he snores and also any movement will wake me. I just want to feel normal when it comes to sleep. It’s been 9 horrendous years of hardly any sleep!!!

    • Oh no, that can’t be relaxing for you. I would make sure you talk to your doctor about it, there could be something going on where you are not getting into the deeper sleep you need to be in to not be awoken by every little noise. I would also try a noise machine, maybe with ocean waves or something like that. That is something you can have on all night, without worry about light from it, and it will stay consistent so there will not be breaks in the noise for you to wake up in. The other thing you may want to do is start off the night with ear plugs and see if that helps. Also, if your partner is snoring all the time, make sure he discusses it with his doctor as well – he may be having some sleep issues as well!

  6. it has been a couple years since i have been able to sleep without a T.V. Most of the time i don’t even finish an episode before falling asleep, but when i attempt to fall asleep without it, i get anxiety, like someone is in my room, or outside my door. I start hearing noises that i know are in my head. When the TV is on i have no problem with the anxiety, but as soon as i turn it off, i wont be falling asleep.

    • Hi,

      A white noise machine could help with these noises, it may be something that is worth a try for you to see if it helps. Or you could just use an app on your phone for a night to see if that helps. (I don’t normally recommend always sleeping with a phone in the room because the Wi-Fi signals aren’t great to sleep near.) – Michelle

  7. I don’t fall asleep til several hours after my wife does, 2-4am sometimes. As soon as I shut the TV off she wakes up from a dead sleep, assumes I’m still asleep and turns the TV back on. I don’t want her to not be able to sleep, nor do I want to argue, but I feel like I’m gonna die. Please help

    • Hi Drew, Would she be willing to set a sleep timer and let the tv turn off after she’s been asleep for a bit? Or are you also using the tv to fall asleep? It sounds like the tv may be keeping you up, and I would discuss this with her. Maybe she can agree to still fall asleep with it on, but then keep it off the rest of the night?

  8. I have always used a fan to help me sleep, but in 2012, I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. It turned my world upside down. I can’t sleep more than about four hours at a time. When I wake up I’m reminded that I’m living in a camper instead of my home because I’m no longer able to work. Then I begin reliving every treatment, my hair falling out, me being sick, etc. I’m on 60 mg of anti-depressants but I still can’t sleep. What can I do? I’m desperate for a good night’s sleep. (Btw, it’s 3:41 as I’m writing this).

    • I am so sorry for what you are going through Angela. I wonder if having a pen and paper next to your bed and writing about how you are feeling in the middle of the night could help? You also may want to look into finding a meditation CD or learning how to meditate yourself. This may help you when you wake in the middle of the night.

  9. Kelly on June 17, 2015 at 1:19 pm said:


    I’ve not been able to get to sleep for months with out TV, Movie or Music. But i’ve tried everything; reading, not moving, a dark room, black out curtains, but nothing seems to work. My parents have been fustrated as they have been blaming the my Ipad&Phone but thats what is helping me. Please could someone help. Thanks x

    • Hi Kelly,

      If you are using your ipad or iphone before bed, that could be causing you to stay awake. The light from those electronics can cause your body to think it’s daytime and therefore it does not produce the hormone, melatonin, which is needed for sleep. I would try for a few nights to not use those for around an hour before bed and see if that helps. If you still need something, I would maybe use a radio with music, but try not to be using anything with light coming from it. – Michelle Winters

  10. allenah on June 1, 2015 at 11:53 pm said:

    I can not sleep without tv on and mine is broken so mad i can not sleep should I get a doctor

  11. Ashley on March 26, 2015 at 2:19 am said:

    I have a very difficult time falling asleep without my shows playing. I’ve tried white noise with a fan but I will stay laying awake for hours with random thoughs sometimes till 2 or 3 o clock in the morning. Its beginning to get a bit unreal. I’ll stay asleep as long as a show is running. And once its done I wake up. Sometimes before the series is done whether it be big bang theory or the mighty boosh. Sometimes I fall asleep to documentaries . I’m also an early riser, doesn’t matter what time I fall asleep I will wake up at 5:30am on the spot even if I fall asleep at 3am. I just find it annoying that i can not sleep without something playing. I have tried several times to fall asleep without a show running and I always wind up putting something on. Should I seek a doctor?

  12. Victor on January 5, 2015 at 5:43 pm said:

    I’ve been opting to let the tv in low brightness and volume when going to sleep. I know it is still bad for me, but whenever I fall asleep without it, the creepy nightmares disrupt my sleep. Leaving the tv on a silly sitcom always help with that.

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  15. I have tinnitus and they have a pillow with speakers in them so you can listen to white noise while you sleep. Just something I thought about when reading why you slept with the TV on.

    I didn’t know that TV light could burn them melatonin thought it was just the sun. Interesting.

    • sleepwell on June 29, 2013 at 11:37 am said:

      Hi Joanne,

      Our body makes melatonin when conditions are right for sleep – darkness being one. So anything that emits light can inhibit our bodies from creating the melatonin.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!


  16. First, I confess that I regard falling asleep in a recliner in front of a TV playing some sweet, funny movie that I have seen before (so there is no need to stay awake to see what happens) as a lovely luxury.
    That said, there is no TV in my bedroom. Usually I go to bed and (a) let thoughts drift through my mind, (b) meditate, (c) pray, (d) reflect on my blessings, or (e) listen to peaceful music.

  17. I don’t even have a television in my sleeping room, and I love it!

    When my mind is racing at bed time, I sometimes use a meditation for the same reason you mention: to have my mind focus on something. So the meditation will help me fall asleep.

    I used to do this with calls on coachings skills as well. The calls were interesting and I really wanted to listen, but the guy who did them had a dark, soothing voice… 🙂

  18. I no longer sleep with the TV on, but I can’t fall asleep without the fan going. I think I will the sound of it.

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