Growing up, my parents never allowed my brother and me to fall asleep at night while watching TV. My wife on the other hand got used to falling asleep to the sounds and lights that a television set has to offer. We still battle to this day about when to leave the TV on, and when to shut it off.

Full disclosure, our kids got into the habit of falling asleep to some sort of TV too. So who is right? Is it ok to leave the TV on at a low volume, or should it be off while you sleep? A new study out of Austria is weighing in and it turns out my parents were on to something.

The study found that while people slept and heard unfamiliar voices on their TVs, they triggered something called 'micro-arousals'. That is when you almost wake up. If it happens too much at night you'll spend much of the next day feeling groggy. But here is the thing. It only happens with unfamiliar voices like actors on TV. Family members or other people you live with don't have the same effect.

The study also showed that it didn't make a difference which sleep cycle you were in. It only happened during non-REM sleep. A full night's rest is only about 20% REM sleep so a large chunk of your sleep could be affected. It is our brain's way of protecting us. If it hears a strange sound, it thinks we need to wake up!

If you won't give up falling asleep with a TV on, try setting a timer. That way you won't ruin your whole night's sleep.

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