I admit it – I have binge-watched. Sometimes it’s just hard to turn off those faves – GOT, Daredevil, Walking Dead… the list goes on. It’s really easy to slip into it. In fact 61% of streamers admit to doing it. And most people who binge-watch didn’t intend to do it. But might there be harm in watching 3 or 4 hours at a time?
Unfortunately, yes, there may be downsides.
For one thing, sleep. One recent study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine reported that, of the 423 adults participating in the study, 80% of them binge-watched and 14% did it several times a week. This not only cut into their sleep time, but even after the device was turned off, they had difficulty falling asleep. Termed “sleep arousal,” this means that when you have just seen a complex and interesting storyline, you tend to think about it and your brain is almost so ‘awake’ that it is difficult to sleep. And lack of sleep or disrupted sleep can definitely impact you the next day by making you fatigued and affecting your mood.
And that’s not all. If you sit for more than three hours, you may be at risk for “sitting disease.” People who sit for long periods of time have a higher risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cancer, and even dying earlier. That’s quite a price to pay for those extra episodes!
So, now what? Should you give up binge-watching? That may be hard to do completely, but try to take it down a few notches:
- Limit your binge-watching to once in a while rather than several times a month, and do it on a Friday or Saturday night, when it’s less likely to affect your work the next day.
- Add some stretches or steps that can reduce the impact of the health hazards: One study found that even two minutes of light activity for every hour you sit can lower your risk of early death by one-third. Or, you could always binge-watch while you’re on the treadmill…
- Turn off all devices 45 minutes to an hour before you intend to sleep – this can reduce the impact of that blue light on melatonin, your sleep hormone.
You don’t have to quit binge-watching completely, but be mindful about how often you’re doing it and how long you’re sitting on the couch. Now, about that Walking Dead premier coming up…