But none of these studies is particularly large, and all of them focus very specifically on the effects of light on circadian rhythm, not the effects of television on sleep. One of the Harvard studies had a study size of 10 people and used different wavelengths of light as its variable; the other had a study size of 12 people and used backlit ereaders vs nonbacklit ones. The University of Toronto study followed 36 full-time nurses and also focused on light. Still, the results of those studies have been so convincing that many in the field say the science is settled.
Millions upon millions of people fall asleep with the television on every night, so it seems crazy that there haven't been more specific studies into how it affects us
Breus said it's unclear who would pay for such a study, however. Inpatient sleep studies are expensive (hence the small sample sizes of the studies I referenced above), and the idea that television is bad for sleep quality isn't a terribly controversial one. He said it may be in the interest of a big network or a company like Netflix to sponsor one, but whenever corporate money starts sponsoring science, things like scientific independence come into play.
"It's funny, you're at least the 10th person to tell me they watch The Simpsons or Seinfeld to fall asleep"