The advent of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu has made the act of sitting down and binge-watching a show’s entire season compelling and addictive. Though we consume these shows quickly so as to not fall prey to co-workers who like to let spoilers slip, TV binge-watching can also be harmful to our health, says recent research.
The new study, which appeared in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, surveyed more than 400 adults ages 18 to 25 about their sleep quality and the amount of shows they binge-watched in the previous month. The scientists found the subjects slept an average of 7 hours and 37 minutes, and 81% revealed some binge-watching sessions with almost 40% saying they did it once a month, while 28% of the group claimed a few binges. And those bingers also reported more fatigue and lower sleep quality compared to those who didn’t gorge on shows.
“Bingeable TV shows have plots that keep the viewer tied to the screen,” said study head Liese Exelmans, a Ph.D. student and researcher at the Leuven School for Mass Communication Research. “We think they become intensely involved with the content, and may keep thinking about it when they want to go to sleep.” They presume that an elevated heart rate or increased mental awareness that can come from watching the shoes can affect your attempts to fall asleep afterward, leading to poor sleep quality. “This prolongs sleep onset or, in other words, requires a longer period to ‘cool down’ before going to sleep, thus affecting sleep overall,” said Exelmans.