Television watching may be an important determinant of bedtime and may contribute to sleep debt, according to the latest research.
The study included 21,475 people aged 15 or older. All participants completed the American Time Use Survey between 2003 and 2006. The activities that the participants engaged in two hours before bedtime were recorded.
Television viewing was by far the dominant pre-sleep activity, accounting for approximately 50 per cent of pre-bedtime.
The authors of the study Mathias Basner and David Dinges of the University of Pennsylvania were surprised to find that watching television appeared to be the most important time cue for the beginning of the sleep period.
Sleeping less than seven to eight hours daily hinders alertness and is associated with increased obesity, mortality and morbidity.
Dinges said, “Given the relationship of short sleep duration to health risks, there is concern that many Americans are chronically under-sleeping due to lifestyle choices.”
Dr Basner added that “watching less television in the evening and postponing work start time in the morning appear to be the candidate behavioural changes for achieving additional sleep and reducing chronic sleep debt. While the timing of work may not be flexible, giving up some TV viewing in the evening should be possible to promote adequate sleep.”