Save hours of time every day: Stop watching so much television!

One primary television-watching energy drain is late night shows.  Given our hectic schedules with running in the door to make dinner, running out the door to take the kids to soccer practice, and then running home to finally get the kids in bed, we literally have no time left for ourselves.  We quite reasonably crave a little relaxation time, but all we have the energy to do is plop on the couch and turn on the tube.  We tell ourselves, “I’ll only watch for 15 minutes, then go to bed.”  But those alpha waves start humming, and Letterman is downright hilarious, and before you know it, 15 minutes have turned into two hours.  So you get to bed by 12:30 a.m., and you have to wake up at 6 a.m.  This pattern serves you a triple wallop.

First, you’re going to sleep after midnight.  The earlier you go to bed, the more supercharged your adrenal glands will be.  Your adrenal glands sit atop your kidneys, and they play a huge role in your energy level.  The adrenal glands manufacture adrenaline, cortisol, and DHEA.  Cortisol is helpful, but too much is stressful.  Cortisol stimulates the liver to convert amino acids to glucose and mobilizes fatty acids in the blood, both of which provide us with energy.  Too much cortisol—caused by sleep deprivation—increases blood sugar and the risk for hypertension, high cholesterol, and heart disease.  Getting plenty of sleep, however, increases DHEA production, which keeps cortisol levels in check.  DHEA also lowers LDL, or bad, cholesterol; increases muscle mass; lowers percentage of body fat; and improves energy, sleep, and mental clarity.  Even sleeping in the next morning doesn’t restore your adrenals as going to bed well before midnight does.[i] 

Second, you’ve deprived yourself of hours of sleep!  And sleep deprivation doubles your risk for obesity.  Professor Francesco Cappuccio at the University of Warwick Medical School studied data regarding 28,000 children and 15,000 adults.  He found that sleep deprivation increases appetite through hormonal changes; lack of sleep increases production of ghrelin, an appetite stimulant, and reduces production of leptin, an appetite suppressant.[ii]  Bottom line: not getting enough sleep can actually make you fat! 

Third, the human sleep cycle runs in increments of 90 minutes.  If you only get 5 ½ hours of sleep, you’ve lopped off your sleep cycle right in the middle, which is why you feel lethargic.  In other words, sleep cycles are usually complete at 1½ hours, 3 hours, 4½ hours, 6 hours, and 7½ hours.  The extra one-half hour to reach eight hours is to allow for falling asleep.  That’s why sometimes you feel refreshed if you awaken before your alarm goes off; but if you fall back asleep, you may feel super groggy when the alarm finally does go off. 

Sleep is when your brain and muscles restore themselves.  It is as necessary as eating, exercising, and going to the bathroom.  Yet so many Americans deprive themselves of this basic need by watching too much TV.  Would you want someone to take away your plate before you’re finished eating?  People who are tired can’t effectively deal with life’s little everyday stressors, and stress can cause insomnia, creating a vicious cycle of low energy. 

[i] Northrup, Christiane (1994). Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom.

New York



Bantam Books.

[ii] Cappuccio, Francesco (2006, July 12). Sleep deprivation doubles risks of obesity in both children and adults . Retrieved February 5, 2007, from The Unversity of Warwick Web site:



  1. My wife and I haven’t had a television setup to watch broadcast shows for 4 or 5 years now. We watch movies, but not on air broadcasts. It has changed our TV watching habits from something where you just sit and veg into something where you sit down with a definite end in mind.

  2. Have you heard about the SleepTracker watch? It monitors your sleep rythmns and wakes you at the proper time, like you said, at the end of one your your 90 minute cycles closet to your desired wakeup time. I don’t have one yet but your article makes me want to check it out even more. Here is the link:
    p.s. I have no financial or other relationship with this company. I just think they have a pretty cool product.

  3. My husband and I have been married for almost two years now and also opted not to purchase cable TV or antenna-in broadast TV. We have Netflix and so we can watch movies or series TV shows that we like – but it’s much more difficult to just sit down and watch shows that we don’t even care about. This has saved us so much wasted time and has given us the opportunity to grow the depth of our relationship immensely during the early years of our marriage. I would highly reccommend it to anyone – you just both have to want it!