I am certainly not an expert on health by any means, but after listening to a recent radio segment on how our brains are kept awake from light (from the TV or otherwise) while we sleep, I became hip to the fact that total darkness (yeah, no nightlight, no phone before bed, etc.) is the only way to get a truly good night’s rest. While I don’t have access to a total dark sky to sleep under, I happened to invest in an eye mask.

I come from a limited TV upbringing (only PBS) and the TV certainly was never on during the night (plus our only household TV was in the basement). So, I remember being perplexed at slumber parties when I learned that some people do sleep with the TV on. I couldn’t fall asleep that way. I would often wait until everyone was asleep and then turn it off. Sneaky, I know. And while for some that excitement of watching TV all night long may just be a rare childhood pastime, I wondered how many U.S adults do this on a typical night.

In early October, we ran the question:

26% of U.S. Adults sleep with the TV on.

Of our 2,045 responses weighted to U.S. Adults, 26% of those polled said Yes. That’s who I’ll focus on in this post.

Of the 26%:

  • Women are slightly more likely than men to sleep with the TV on
  • 47% live in the Suburbs
  • Smokers are more likely to answer Yes
  • 35-54-year-olds are more likely to answer Yes
  • People who exercise regularly are less likely to answer Yes.

Our data shows that those who sleep with the TV on are more than twice as likely than those who do not to get less than 4 hours of sleep per night. They’re also more than 2x as likely to watch 6 hours or more of TV per day. That’s a lot of TV and not a lot of sleep.

Not surprisingly, those who answered yes are more likely to be all-around TV fans across all categories. They are more likely to watch:

  • TV documentaries
  • Music and Entertainment TV
  • Reality TV
  • TV Sitcoms

Dining out, followed by TV?

People who regularly eat out or order takeout for dinner are more likely to answer Yes.

Compared to the general population, regular fast food and fast-casual diners are more than half as likely to sleep with the TV on, as are those who are interested in fast food value menus.

Lights Out

So, I answered my question. A little more than ¼ of U.S. adults are still living that slumber party life.

I suppose my biggest takeaway is that these people are watching a lot of TV, and the numbers show that it most likely starts long before bedtime. Perhaps fast food and fast casual restaurants should run late-night advertisements to target these late-night watchers.