The notion that watching television or listening to music helps people relax and eventually fall asleep may be a misconception, the Taiwan Society of Sleep Medicine said.
In a survey published on Friday, the group said that one out of every five people was an insomniac, and in a series of questions specifically focused on activities before going to bed, the study found that the majority of those polled like to watch television or play with their smartphones. Both activities each accounted for 33.1 percent of those polled.
Of the remaining people polled, the rest choose to read magazines or newspapers, or listen to music or radio shows.
Wu Chia-shuo (吳家碩), a doctor with the group, said that although watching television and using smartphones were the highest-ranked activities, the two had different effects on the brain.
When one watches television, it is usually for one or two hours, so the time during which the mind is active is relatively shorter than when using smartphones for various activities, Wu said.
Wu added that when comparing insomniacs and with average sleepers, 43 percent of insomniacs would choose to watch TV while lying in bed, while only 37 percent of regular sleepers choose to do so.
The relationship between television and sleep — whether people choose to watch television because of insomnia or whether they cannot sleep because they are watching television — has yet to be determined, Wu said.
Wu was also opposed to doing anything on a bed that did not have anything to do with sleeping, adding that if people wanted to listen to some music before going to sleep, they could do so on the sofa, and then go to sleep on the bed once they start feeling drowsy.
One should use a device that can be automatically shut off, Wu said, adding that this would weigh less on the mind and enable the sleeper to be more relaxed.
“When you lie down on the bed, you should go to sleep,” Wu said, adding that any activity done in bed that is not sleeping could easily cause people to become more excited or stressed, which are not conducive to helping them enter sleep.
Wu said that while several respondents felt that “a good romp in bed” would aid sleep, the activity in itself is strenuous in nature and exciting and was not suggested in theory.
However, as every individual is different, the exact nature of their love-making also differs.
There is no standardized answer, Wu said.
Wu suggested that people could choose any sedentary activity of their liking and perform that activity half an hour before sleep to aid in calming the emotions and relaxing the body.
Group chairman Lin Chia-mo (林嘉謨) said that people who cannot sleep within 30 minutes of going to bed three times a week, wake earlier than expected or find it difficult to sleep after waking during the night, they could be considered an insomniac.
Insomnia can cause increased blood pressure, blood sugar levels and blood cholesterol levels, Lin said, adding that these symptoms could also turn into cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.