When it comes to relaxing after a long day, your choice of TV in the evening is important, and it’s traditionally believed that if you want nightmare-free sleep, you should avoid horror and thrillers before bed.
But a new study finds that suspenseful thrillers, even those full of cliffhangers, have little effect on sleep quality and actually help you nod.
Scientists at the University of Friborg recruited 50 young people who watched TV three times before going to bed in a specially designed laboratory.
Half of the participants watched Netflix suspense shows such as How To Get Away With Murder, Orphan Black, Sense 8 and The Sinner.
However, the other half were given the documentary “Islands of the Future,” in which communities living off the coast of mainland Europe tackle energy issues.
Scientists tracked stress by monitoring heart rate and cortisol levels and asking volunteers how stressed they felt at different times.
Heart rate spike after cliffhanger
Findings showed that watching suspenseful TV increased stress, but did not affect participants’ sleep quality, with neither total sleep time nor number of awakenings significantly different between groups.
“Despite increased pre-sleep alertness, participants fell asleep faster after watching a suspense film compared to a neutral TV series,” the scientists wrote in the journal. Wrote in a study done.
The data showed that while watching the thriller with the cliffhanger ending, people fell asleep after 19 minutes and 13 seconds compared to 21 minutes and 20 seconds in the control group.
The team found that in non-cliffhanger episodes, people fell asleep at 18:51 after a suspenseful show, compared to 18:39 for the documentary.
“Objective sleep parameters such as sleep efficiency, total sleep time, wakefulness after sleep onset, and percentage of REM sleep were all unaffected by experimental manipulation,” the scientist wrote.
“Indeed, sleep onset latency (SOL) showed the opposite outcome pattern. Participants were more likely to be more likely after watching 3 hours of I was able to fall asleep faster.”
Data showed that heart rate and cortisol levels, common indicators of stress, spiked when cliffhangers were involved.
A suspenseful show might have been more interesting to the participants
“Still, participants in the cliffhanger group were able to fall asleep faster after watching the suspenseful television series than after watching the non-suspenseful control documentary,” the scientist added. increase.
“We must therefore conclude that arousal induced by suspenseful television series, with or without cliffhangers, does not lead to impairment of objective or subjective sleep quality in healthy young adults. .”
The team noted that while the suspenseful Netflix show may have been more interesting for participants, the documentary may have led to boredom and encouraged feelings of frustration and anger, which are known to interfere with sleep. There is
“If the documentary was not interesting or stimulating for the subjects, it may have induced negative emotional states that may have delayed sleep onset,” the team wrote in their paper.