WESTCHESTER, Ill. - According to a research abstract that will be presented on Monday, June 8, at SLEEP 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, television watching may be an important determinant of bedtime, and may contribute to chronic sleep debt.
The study included data from 21,475 people aged 15 or older who completed the American Time Use Survey between the years 2003 and 2006. The study examined the activities participants undertook two hours before and after bed time. It found that television viewing was by far and away the dominant pre-sleep activity, accounting for almost 50% of pre-bed time.
According to the authors of the study, Mathias Basner, MD, MS, MSc, and David F. Dinges, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia, they were surprised to find that watching television seemed to be the most important time cue for the beginning of the sleep period, rather than hours past sunset or other more biological factors. So, in fact, TV may make people stay up late, while alarm clocks make them get up early, potentially reducing sleep time below what is physiologically needed.
Sleeping less than 7-8 hours daily impairs alertness and is associated with increased obesity, morbidity and mortality. Despite this fact, up to 40 percent of Americans sleep for less than the recommended time per night.
"Given the relationship of short sleep duration to health risks, there is concern that many Americans are chronically under-sleeping due to lifestyle choices," said Dinges. Dr. Basner added that "According to our results, watching less television in the evening and postponing work start time in the morning appear to be the candidate behavioral 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."
Those who suspect that they might be suffering from a sleep disorder are encouraged to consult with their primary care physician or a sleep specialist at a sleep center accredited by the AASM. Locations of accredited sleep centers can be found at
The annual SLEEP meeting brings together an international body of 6,000 leading researchers and clinicians in the field of sleep medicine to present and discuss new findings and medical developments related to sleep and sleep disorders.
More than 1,300 research abstracts will be presented at the SLEEP meeting, a joint venture of the AASM and the Sleep Research Society. The three-and-a-half-day scientific meeting will bring to light new findings that enhance the understanding of the processes of sleep and aid the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep apnea.
Abstract Title: The Time of Our Lives: Work, Sleep and Television
Presentation Date: Monday, June 8
Category: Behavior, Cognition and Dreams
Abstract ID: 1260