It feels great to watch your favorite TV show or series after a long day at work, right? With the various streaming platforms available today such as Netflix, Hulu, Viu, Viki, Amazon, etc., it’s so easy to give in and make binge-watching a habit.
In fact, in America alone, 70 percent are binge-watchers. 40 percent of which are millennials who spends six hours a day watching in a single setting.
How binge watching affects sleep
Unknowingly, this binge-watching habit is taking a toll on our sleep and health. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, “higher binge-watching frequency was associated with poorer sleep quality, increased fatigue, and more symptoms of insomnia.” This habit poses a threat to health and healthy sleep.
- It can lead to sleep deprivation. Most people don’t intend on staying up all night just to binge-watch a show or series. It often happens by accident that they were so engaged and sucked into what they’re watching, resulting in prolonged sleep onset and less hours of sleep to none at all.
- It interferes with our ability to fall asleep. Binge-watching seems to increase what psychologists refer to as cognitive arousal, the feeling of being ready to do more, thus, interfering with the ability to fall asleep. The show’s storylines, imagery, etc. stimulate brain activity and alertness.
- It increases risks of depression. Research links binge-watching to higher levels of loneliness, depression, and anxiety. And, people who suffer from these conditions tend to have trouble sleeping. The cycle continues, and quality sleep becomes even more distant and out of reach.
What you can do about this habit
After knowing that a binge-watching session is bad for your sleep and overall health, what should you do then? Here are some practical steps you can take to manage your viewing habit better and to stop compromising the quality of your sleep:
- Set limits ahead of time. Set and follow a consistent sleep-wake schedule, even on the weekends. Set how many episodes or hours you’ll spend on watching TV or a series each day. More so, stick to your time limit. Turning the “autoplay” function off or setting a timer might also help you.
- Be accountable to someone else. Have an accountability partner who can check up on you, your binge-watching habits, and your commitment. You have to have someone else or a group of friends to check up on you and say “enough” when your binging impulses are out of control.
- Find alternatives to watching TV. If you can’t sleep yet or it’s too early in the evening to go to bed, instead of watching TV or streaming Netflix, just go to bed. Have a relaxing bath, prep yourself for bedtime, throw on your favorite pajamas, listen to music, and head to your bedroom.
Keep your watching and viewing habits in moderation. Getting your required hours of sleep each night is of more worth than getting up-to-date with your favorite shows or series. Keep in mind that there’s no way to compensate for sleep debt.
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