How does binge-watching your favorite shows affect your health?
Our favorite shows used to come on once a week at a specific time. However, with streaming services, we can now watch many of those shows whenever we want and for how long we want. It seems harmless at first, but if you sit through one episode and find yourself still watching hours later, you have entered the binge territory.
The good part is that you are not alone. Staying at home became the norm during the COVID-19 pandemic. This means a large percentage of people spend a good portion of their time in front of a screen. According to a study, people spending more time per week streaming videos in 2020 increased by nearly 75% compared with 2019. As with all things, this habit could have severe side effects.
Here are a few health considerations to know before you sit through more than one episode next time.
Binge-watching may interfere with sleep
Binge-watching can cause something called “pre-sleep arousal.” Pre-sleep arousal means physical and mental activity, like intense thinking or a pounding heart rate while watching TV, may excite your brain – keeping you awake. Difficulty in falling asleep may also lead to fatigue; linked to type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, or depression.
It may cause a greater risk of heart issues
According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease has been linked to spending long periods in a sitting or reclining posture. People who engage in physical activity regularly instead of sitting in front of a screen have lower risks of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, or heart failure.
It may lead to back pain
Poor posture while watching TV may place added pressure on your neck and spine. This may lead to chronic lower back pain or neck pain. It is also linked to a risk of high blood pressure and obesity.
Here are some healthier alternatives you can try:
- Make sleep a priority: Consider turning off the TV early enough to allow your brain to wind down before bed.
- Work out while you watch. If you limit your viewing to only while exercising, it may help you set limits on how long you watch each day and help you stay accountable for daily activity.
- Take breaks. Stop, grab a glass of water, and check in with how your body feels. Stop if you’re feeling tired.
It is unlikely that binge-watching now and then will likely lead to long-term problems. But it is best to apply moderation.