Welcome to the weekend! If your plans include settling in to binge watch your new favorite show on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime…..you might want to check out a new study that suggests binge watching could lead to lousy sleep, more fatigue and even insomnia.
If you’ve ever pushed back your bedtime to watch just one more episode of “Orange Is the New Black,” or lay in bed wide-eyed after streaming three exhilarating hours of “Game of Thrones,” this new research probably won’t surprise you….
Not only does on-demand TV tempt us to keep watching episode after episode, say the study’s authors, but the shows are also designed to draw us in, boost suspense and emotionally invest in plotlines and characters. This can lead to excitement and increased arousal, the research shows, which can translate into “increased cognitive alertness” and an inability to get the shuteye you need.
According to Health.com, “As the study authors suspected, the participants who identified as binge-watchers reported more fatigue, more symptoms of insomnia, and greater alertness prior to going to sleep. And compared to non-bingers, they had a 98% increased risk of having poor sleep quality. Interestingly, no relationship was found between sleep problems and regular television watching, during which viewers typically switch from one program to another.”
United Press International (UPI) pointed out that binge watchers were still getting, on average, about 7.5 hours of sleep per night. So, why were they reporting greater fatigue compared to non-binge viewers? The study’s author, Liese Exelmans, explained it like this.
“We think that being engaged with the same content for hours on end may leave viewers thinking about the show, what happened, and what will happen next,” Exelmans said. This may increase arousal, boost an individual’s heartbeat, and lead to a longer “cool-down” period before a viewer is actually able to fall asleep, she said.
Researchers say binge-watching often happens unintentionally. People get drawn into a show, wind up watching one more episode and fail to go to bed when they should. If you find that is happening to you – the experts have some advice.
Those who think their TV habits might be impinging upon their sleep should “make a timeline and try to adhere to it,” Exelmans said.
“If it is a matter of self-control, there are ways to improve that,” she said, noting that establishing a bedtime schedule and even setting a bedtime alarm can be helpful.
“This comes down to establishing habits, which can be challenging,” Exelmans said, “but once you manage to habitualize your evening routine, chances are good you’ll stick to it.”
Are you a binge watcher? If you are, is it damaging your sleep habits? Or can you binge all weekend and still get the restful shut-eye you need? Share your thoughts with us! Generating meaningful conversations around the health stories making headlines is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!