Most of us are in the habit of watching television. We grew up with it. At this point it has become part of our culture. Even when you are not sitting down and watching, someone else invariably is, and it hums away in the background, adding the chatter of canned voices to our environment.
Not surprisingly, many people with CFS/ME cannot tolerate the noise. Dr. John Richardson, a British physician who treated thousands of ME patients, listed the inability to tolerate chatter as one of the primary symptoms of ME. Not only do people have difficulty with the noise, they have problems with the sudden shifts of light. A number of years ago, several Japanese children suffered seizures while watching Pokemon on TV. The rapid flickering of light led to a massive firing of neurons, and the children collapsed.
While people with CFS/ME do not usually run the risk of having seizures while watching TV, photophobia (sensitivity to light) is one of the most common symptoms of the illness. Our nervous systems over-respond to light and other stimulation, which can lead to pain, a creeping sensation, anxiety and malaise.
The ideal solution for this problem is to turn off the TV. If you live in a household, this may not always be possible. But turn it off when you can. If there is a program you would like to watch, you can minimize the effects of flickering by making sure the room is well lit. Keep as far from the screen as possible, and wear polarized sunglasses.
Most important, do not watch TV at night if you suffer from insomnia. While watching a movie on a DVD can be pleasant in the evening, watching TV is too stimulating. You will have a more restful night if you read before bed.