How Game of Thrones Stopped a Nation Sleeping


Georgia Crabtree - October 15, 2019 Hi, I'm Georgia! One of the Happy Beds content writers. When I'm not here you can find me sipping a strong coffee, desperately trying to finish my novel whilst attempting to train my two naughty house bunnies!

How Game of Thrones Stopped a Nation Sleeping

Game of Thrones walked away with ten Emmy awards this year, including that for “Outstanding Drama Series”. Despite the fact that the final episode aired over four months ago, the legacy that it built for itself is thriving, with promises of sequels and prequels galore! But have you ever considered the effect that television shows, like Game of Thrones, can have on your sleep?

Was the Anticipation of Season 8 Killing You?

Season 8 of Game of Thrones was possibly one of the most anticipated seasons of television the world has ever seen. The seasons had aired on a yearly basis up until 2017 when season 7 ended. It was announced that fans would be waiting two years for the final season and the season would be 6 episodes as opposed to the usual 10. This only seemed to add to the anticipation and excitement.

In the US, Game of Thrones aired on HBO at 9pm on a Sunday evening, and for us eager British fans, it aired at 2am on a Monday morning on Sky Atlantic before airing again at 9pm on Sunday evening, so if you really were desperate, you could avoid those hated spoilers.

Of the 3.39 million people that tuned in to watch the Premiere of Game of Thrones season 8 on Monday 15th April a whopping 192,000 viewers stayed up to watch the fate of the Seven Kingdoms at 2am. That is a lot of tired eyes at work on a Monday morning.

Stressed for the Starks?

Not only did Game of Thrones encourage its viewers to sacrifice a good night’s sleep to find out what happened next, its content was so stressful that it stopped people from actually sleeping.

Anyone who has watched Game of Thrones knows that it isn’t always an easy watch. It’s predicted that there have been around 170,000 deaths in the 8 seasons, 23,000 of those taking place in season 7 alone, and a huge amount of those are fan favourite characters.

It may come as a surprise that a television show can cause an audience so much stress that it affects their sleep. This particular type of stress is called emphatic stress.

In 2014 the journal Psychoneuroendocinology released a study into emphatic stress. The study found that a person did not directly have to be undergoing any kind of stress or pressure to experience a stress response. 

Researchers measured stress responses that people had when watching a loved one, or a stranger in a stressful situation. Presenting this test via video was enough to increase the stress levels of 24 percent of subjects. Dr. Veronika Engert, one of the study's authors said, “This means that even television programmes depicting the suffering of other people can transmit that stress to viewers”.

Therefore things like The Red Wedding (The most stressful episode of TV ever) could lead to a lot of tossing and turning at night.

A Nation Awake

We took a look at some of your tweets to see how many of you couldn’t sleep after watching Game of Thrones. Most of the tweets in which you say you couldn’t sleep after a Game of Thrones episode took place on the 29th of April, following the Battle of Winterfell. 






The episode was purposely kept dark and confusing, so we had no clear way of knowing who lived and who died, and the deaths that we were shown clearly left us open mouthed. (Jorah and Lyanna Mormont, am I right?) 

We watched the whole of the Dothraki army be obliterated in literally seconds by the army of the dead, Theon fight to his death and we had it officially confirmed, (we all knew) that keeping the women and children in the Crypts of Winterfell was a terrible idea when fighting against a king who can raise the dead.

No wonder we couldn’t sleep that night.

Looking more generically at your tweets, it was obvious that Game of Thrones stopped many of you from sleeping over the last 12 months. There were over 400 tweets regarding having little or no sleep following episode airings, with various Game of Thrones hashtags (#gameofthronesfinale, #GOT8, #GameofThrones), and nearly 900 tweets with various Game of Thrones topics, such as fan favourites Jon Snow, Tormund Giantsbane, Sansa Stark and Bran Stark.


The Most Stressful Highlights Samwell Tarley and Jon Snow Reunite



We waited a whole season for Samwell and Jon to reunite; it should have been a joyful moment for viewers seeing these two friends back together.

But when they did reunite, Samwell dropped a major truthbomb. Watchers found out that R+L=J was cannon at the end of season 7, but Jon was still unaware of his true Targaryen parentage and his claim to the Iron Throne, that is until Samwell told him in the crypts in the season premiere. 

Remember, all of this is after he struck up a romantic relationship with Daenerys who was also a Targaryen and his Aunt by blood, yikes. All in all, it made for some uncomfortable, stressful viewing.


The Night King Arrives at Winterfell



Episode two of season eight was the calm before the storm episode. A plan of action is established for the Battle of Winterfell and we see all of our firm character favourites come back to fight with the north.

All of the characters drink and celebrate and enjoy what they believe to be their final night. The festivities are brought to a close at the end of the episode when the Night King and his army of the dead arrive at Winterfell, ready for battle. And we are left wondering, how could they end an episode like that?!


The Battle of Winterfell



Episode three of Game of Thrones is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated and stressful episodes to ever air. So many characters died, Jorah was brought back to us to be ripped away again, Beric Dondarrion finally ran out of lives, Theon Greyjoy died protecting Bran and the Night King was defeated... a true victory for the north.

A long, dark (literally) episode of ups and downs left us all hurt and confused. Sleep was next to impossible after this one.


The Bells




The penultimate episode was just as shocking and stressful as ever. We see Daenerys fully transform into the mad queen as she literally opens fire on King’s Landing, burning it, and her enemies to the ground.

Tyrion organises for the Bells of surrender to be rung, but Daenerys carries on killing regardless. Audiences sat opened mouthed. Alongside this, Cleganebowl finally happened and we lost the beloved Hound. And we finally watched Cersei and Jaime come to an end as they were crushed beneath the rubble of the city.


Daenerys’ Murder


Daenerys’ actions in the Seige of King's Landing lost her some allies, mainly being Tyrion and Jon. The episode opens with Tyrion basically telling Jon that he has to kill Daenerys for the sake of the Seven Kingdoms. And kill her he does, in a loving embrace Jon stabs her in the stomach and Daenerys dies in his arms.

The rest of the finale takes place several months later, with all the Bannerman negotiating the fat of the Seven Kingdoms. Jon is given a life sentence as a member of the Nights Watch for the assassination of Daenerys, but in the end we see him riding north of the wall, ready for his happily ever after. Arya sets sail to find what is West of Westeros,  Sansa is crowned Queen of the North, and Bran rules Westeros. Though this episode is stressful, we can sleep easy knowing that the remaining Stark kids are safe and happy.


Share Your Sleep Tips With Us!

Game of Thrones truly was an emotional rollercoaster and it makes complete sense that it caused enough stress to stop us from sleeping.

Do you have any tips on how to unwind after a particularly stressful episode of your favourite show? Please join the conversation over on social and let’s discuss top tips via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Of course, being comfortable at night can help you drift off, even when reminiscing about your favourite episodes. Have a look at our range of mattresses to find one that’s perfect for helping you unwind and de-stress, aiding a perfect nights’ sleep!

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