Image: Shutterstock/Nicolas Maderna

It can be hard to turn off the TV at night in the middle of a good binge watch. A show so captivating, bedtimes slip right past and before you know it, you’re counting the hours of sleep you’ll get before your morning alarm goes off on one hand.

The good news here is that you’re not alone. As our survey of 1,142 US residents has found that the majority of people often choose to stay up past their normal bedtime if a show has them captivated.

“You get a show or a movie you’re really dying to watch, and you end up staying up late at night, so we actually compete with sleep”

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings

Survey findings:

  • 57% of people surveyed responded that they will stay up for one or two more episodes past their bedtime if they’re really enjoying a show.
  • 14% say they’ll totally ignore their normal bedtime to keep watching a great television show late into the night.
  • 29% said they stick to a strict bedtime, and they turn the TV off no matter how good the show they’re watching is.
  • There was little gap between any major age bracket or gender, with a slight increase of younger people (younger than 35) being willing to sacrifice sleep for watching TV, but it wasn’t extreme.

It used to be so much easier to stop watching TV when network television was the norm. Your favorite show ended at 10PM. Then came DVD box sets and eventually the holy grail of binge watching: streaming services.

Now, if you start a new show on a weeknight, it’s up to you whether or not you want to sacrifice a good night’s sleep in order to watch an entire season. With services like Netflix and Hulu autoplaying the next episode as well, sometimes it feels like the streaming service makes that choice for us.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said back in 2017 that one of the service’s biggest competitors is sleep.

“You get a show or a movie you’re really dying to watch, and you end up staying up late at night, so we actually compete with sleep,” the CEO said.

Replacing a good night’s sleep for television or other distractions has become more common in the past several months, as during the COVID-19 pandemic people have tended to stay at home more, and many people report experiencing low level forms of insomnia or other sleep-related issues.

While a good night sleep should be prioritized over most other activities right before bed, there is also an argument to be made about the importance of unwinding before trying to fall asleep. An easy-to-watch show or movie isn’t the worst idea when it comes to shutting the brain off before bed time.

Television can be relaxing, and a good way to unwind before bed. That being said, a high-stress suspense series might keep the brain more active, prolonging the amount of time it might take to fall asleep, and unfortunately those tend to be the most bingeable types of TV shows.

Survey methodology:

  • 1,142 US residents surveyed online anonymously.
  • 51.9% female, 48.1% male.
  • Age demographic splits in 10 year brackets, with between 12-19% of survey respondents being from each bracket.
  • Survey conducted the week of August 10th-15th.