Ask yourself, why do I turn on the TV and when and why do I turn it off? Several reasons come to mind as to why we turn the TV on:
Avoiding your own thoughts
Need for constant noise or sound
Avoiding the dreaded “to do” list; starting or completing projects
Watching a favorite program (which turns into programs)
Whatever the reason, Americans in general, watch way too much television. In fact the average American watches approximately 5 hours of television per day. Television watching between the hours of 6 pm and 6 am, account for 50 percent of all media usage. TV viewing peaks at 9 pm, accounting for a whopping two-thirds share of all devices during that time, according to Timing Is Everything: When It Comes To Connecting To Content, The Time of Day Means A Lot. Media, 9/21/15.
Why should I as a Functional Nutritionist be blogging about too much TV watching? It’s because Sitting Has Become the New Smoking.
Researchers have found evidence that prolonged sitting increases the risk of developing several serious illnesses like various types of cancer including colon cancer and endometrial cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity which is a predictor for cancer and type 2 diabetes, muscular issues such as stiffness, inability to run, jump and sometimes even stand, and depression due to the lack of exercise.
Other reasons to turn the TV off and do something – What about all of the advertising you’re hit with? It’s pervasive in our culture and you may think you are immune to it but are you really? How about that commercial for a gooey, cheesy piece of pizza and an ice-cold soda? Does that make you want to order one? Maybe not nightly but yes, you know it will be available when you are ready to order one. Oh, and don’t forget to order a soda with it.
How about all of those cereal commercials that claim cereal is good for us when the nutrients are stripped out during processing just to be brought back via synthetic vitamins and labeled as “fortified”.
All of this brought to you by happy, hip, healthy-looking people, who aren’t watching 5 hours of TV per night. Add in the catchy music which is meant to put you in the buying mood and yup you’re are lulled into buying whatever “the most interesting man in the world” is selling.
Advertisers know what the American public is watching, and they have altered our preferences toward quick, high-calorie foods without any nutritional value. They know what we like because they have generous dollars researching how to keep us coming back for more.
If you use the TV to go to sleep, you are interrupting your sleep cycle by allowing the blue light from the screen to disturb your circadian rhythm which undermines the hormone melatonin. It is melatonin that is responsible for putting you to sleep, allowing for a deep, and restorative sleep. The melatonin you produce in your brain is sensitive to the light emitted by televisions and devices such as tablets and smartphones. It is best to keep these out of the bedroom and to shut down your wifi router while sleeping to avoid electromagnetic fields. Who needs wifi when you’re sleeping anyway?
Besides, watching television is a time waster. Many activities aside from watching TV can be accomplished rather than sitting down to your nightly 5 hour TV watching habit.
Use your extra 5 hours to prepare a healthy and satisfying meal, energize the right-side of your brain by creating art or playing an instrument, complete a project, play with your kids or pets, do chores that have been left undone, go for a walk which may lead to talking with neighbors, exercise, try new activities such as dancing, bowling, or softball, hiking, swimming, or paddle boarding. Join a new group, start a new group. You get the picture, the options are endless.
All of these activities will leave you satisfied, re-charged and happy with your life while proud of your accomplishments. And really, what will you be missing if you don’t watch TV? However, if you turn off the TV, you may find that you were in fact missing your life.