Is Binge-Watching Hurting Your Sleep?
We’ve all been there. With the advent of streaming shows on the Internet, we now have the capability (and the opportunity) to consume vast amounts of TV, commercial free, in one long extended sitting.
It used to take an entire season to finish a TV show. You only got to watch one show per week, and even that was split up by commercials… giving you snack breaks, a moment to run to the restroom, or minutes upon minutes of anxious boredom as you awaited the return of the program that you were dying to see.
But now, with a click of the remote control, you can consume an entire season of a TV show in one evening. You can finish an entire series (multiple seasons and all) in a single weekend if you’re a dedicated enough slacker and don’t mind sitting on the couch for that long!
Some of these streaming sites even have it set up to where you can skip the intro to the show (a feature seemingly created especially for those who are binging).
It would also probably be safe to conclude that we all celebrate this. It allows us to consume our favorite shows in the most efficient manner possible, when and how we want, and without any bothersome commercials.
And we can watch entire seasons back-to-back if we want.
But is it possible that binge-watching also has some downsides?
Some are now claiming that binging on TV shows might be hurting our quality of sleep. But is it true?
Here is what you need to know.
How Rest Is Threatened by Binge Viewing
So, back in August of 2017, Forbes.com actually published an article on this exact topic… and it raised a lot of eyebrows. According to the article, psychologists are saying that binge-watching TV before going to bed increased ‘cognitive arousal.’
This is the type of arousal that makes us feel wired up… like we are ready to do something. There has also been a study published on this topic in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. The study was called Binge Viewing, Sleep, and the Role of Pre-Sleep Arousal… and seemed to cover a lot of ground on the topic.
Here is a quote from the Results section of the study, which does a pretty good job of summarizing the idea behind the findings of the study.
“Higher binge viewing frequency was associated with a poorer sleep quality, increased fatigue and more symptoms of insomnia, whereas regular television viewing was not.”
The Conclusions section of the study also went on to say this…
“New viewing styles such as binge viewing are increasingly prevalent and may pose a threat to sleep. Increased cognitive arousal functions as the mechanism explaining these effects.”
Is This Really a Surprise?
It seems like anyone who has ever binge-watched a show would probably answer this question with a flat ‘no…’ and for good reason!
TV shows are dramatic, suspenseful, entertaining, and fun. And if we find a show engaging enough to binge on—then it is only going to amp us up as we watch it, as opposed to helping us calm down.
Tie into this the fact that some people are watching their shows on mobile devices that bombard our eyes and brains with blue light (which has also been shown to keep us awake), and you have the makings of a generation of TV viewers who are going to be spending a fortune on caffeinated drinks (hmmm… what a surprise…) and dragging themselves to work with bags under their eyes.
But are we really going to stop? Are we really going to turn off our show after one episode to give ourselves a few hours of ‘calm down’ time before we turn off the lights and hit the pillow?
It seems unlikely… and that is putting it conservatively.