How to Stop Falling Asleep on the Couch During Movies
I’ve seen the first half of a billion movies. Here’s how a typical movie night goes for me: After eating too many Rocketbird fries and washing them down with a few beers, I curl up in a plush blanket, horizontal on the couch, and strip long before Michelle Yeoh arrives. the hotdog finger scene in Everything Everywhere Everything At Once.
Maybe your schedule is hectic, but you still want to catch every twist in the Glass Onion movie. Or maybe your significant other’s date and night selection feels like a slumber party and you’re trying to give credit to Morbius. Whatever your reason for staying awake, keep the following tips in mind the next time you’re streaming something at home.
Save the hard liquor for another night
That six-pack of beer might need to spend another evening chilling in the fridge if you’re committed to not dozing off on movie night. Aric Prather, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at UC San Francisco, emphasizes the sleep effects of alcohol. “If you have that extra glass of wine while you’re watching a movie at night, and you’re not moving and you’re sleepy?” he says. “Wow, it better be a thriller to keep you awake.”
Instead of takeout, try charcuterie for dinner
OK, so now I’m drinking a whiskey and Coca Cola (hold whiskey). What about my extraction? A large, greasy pizza or a delicious mountain of Indian food is probably not ideal if you want to keep your eyes open. “Your body has this relaxation response that can happen after you’ve eaten a big meal,” says Brittney Jones, a psychologist who specializes in insomnia at a telehealth company called DrLullaby. “So I’d say go for something smaller, whether it’s a snack or a small meal, like a charcuterie board.” It’s a fantastic suggestion, although she’s never clearly seen how much cheese and crackers I can cram into eating a snack board.
Your sofa may be a little too comfortable
If you like to sleep on the same sofa where you’re trying to watch a movie, your body can be trained to recognize the location as a prime place to sit. “A person might want to watch it at a partner’s or a friend’s house instead. Or sit in a chair that’s not so comfortable in your living room instead of the comfy sofa,” says Jones.
Your bed is definitely very comfortable
As tempting as it sounds, your bed is probably the worst place in your house to stream movies. “So we want to try to make the bed a sanctuary for sleep,” says Prather. “Sleep and sex.” Do you have trouble keeping a regular sleep schedule? Movie nights in bed are definitely not the way to go. “For people who have a tendency to sleep problems, or they already have sleep problems, it can help perpetuate them,” he says. “Your body gets a little confused about what it’s supposed to do.”
Deal with your overall sleep deficit
“If a person is sleep-deprived, and then they want to watch a movie at night? You might not even get 30 minutes into the movie,” says Jones. She suggests trying to get enough rest the night before, as well as address any root cause behind the lack of sleep.
Hold the remote close to press Stop.
Get your blood pumping again by taking frequent breaks during the movie, not just when you need to use the bathroom. Feeling like you’re on the precipice of falling asleep? “That might be a cue to hit pause, get up, get some popcorn, get a drink, move around a bit,” says Jones.
Indulge in the decadent bliss of sleep
“I wouldn’t try to stay awake,” writes Christine Blume, a sleep scientist at the Center for Chronobiology in Switzerland, via email. “Give your body what it obviously, desperately needs.” She has a point! If you’re exhausted after an energy-sapping week, cutting back on movie night is a healthy decision.
Does it keep happening? Consider talking to a doctor
Falling asleep habitually while watching movies can be a sign of undiagnosed sleep apnea, says Prather, “if it’s happening consistently and happening in other settings, especially during the day after what you think is a good night’s sleep sleep.” Does this apply to you? Consider contacting your primary care provider to have a conversation about sleep problems.