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Most of us watch television in the evenings. It is now a tradition that over half of us enjoy each day. On average, in America, a person will watch around five hours of television a day. This time has grown over the past couple of decades and has now begun to affect our sleep.

Even without a television in the bedroom itself, which many do have, studies show that people are watching television later into the evening, sometimes even until after midnight. This is especially problematic when we consider the quality of sleep as it is worsening.

It is estimated that over half of the American population will watch bed until right before going to sleep. The reason that this will cause the quality of sleep to worsen is because of the light that the screen emits.

The light from screens, including mobile phones, is an artificial blue light. Our bodies associate this type of light with daylight. So, for our bodies and minds, the light that is received from screens indicates that it is still daytime.

Typically, during the darker evening hours, our bodies will release a hormone called melatonin. This hormone prompts and readies the body for sleep. However, when the body is under the false impression of daylight, it will not produce this hormone and we will struggle to fall asleep.

Melatonin is an important hormone, crucial to our body clock regularity and quality of sleep. It is because of the body’s confusion that we often struggle with jet lag since our internal body clock is unsure of when to produce melatonin.

While our bodies may be resilient to the occasional night of watching TV before sleeping, the continued and daily pressure this puts on the body can cause a long term degradation of sleep. And television before bed is now a daily routine for nearly half of all Americans.

Our tv and sleep habits are causing a lower quality of sleep and it also affects our children. While we may be inclined to take the stress out of our evenings with children by watching television, this is especially detrimental to a child’s health as their bodies require the regularity of sleep for their development.

While many suggested areas of improvement for our wellbeing involve diet and exercise, sleep should be treated with the same consideration. Our night’s rest is fundamentally important for our bodies and minds. Not only will a better sleep improve our mood but it is important for our physical recovery.

During sleep, for instance, less strain is placed upon the heart compared to when we are awake. This period of rest for the heart helps immensely and is understood to prolong our heart’s health later in life. Simply put, more sleep is better for our bodies. Television, as entertaining as it may be, deprives us of high-quality sleep and causes us to sleep less too, meaning that, in the long run, it is much worse for our health.