Binge-Watching Instead of Sleeping

Binge-watching can have a negative impact on your sleep. It can contribute to the development of sleep disorders, weight gain, and early sleep arousal.

Remember the good old days when we had to wait for a week or even a month to see the new episode of our favorite tv show? Just the thought about it is funny because today we turn on some online streaming platforms and watch the entire season in a few hours. We have all organized or attended a night or two of, for example, Harry Potter movie marathon with our friends, but when and how did marathon-viewing or so-called binge-watching become a part of our everyday life? Well, with the rise of platforms such as Netflix, boundaries or limits between us and tv marathons were erased overnight like they never existed.

How bad was the feeling when an episode of your favorite tv show ends, and then you scroll through other programs, trying to find something as nearly interesting, or have to wait a week to see will Amanda and Jake get back together again, will he ever forgive her, or to find out who killed Jose. Luckily or not, those days are behind us. But, when you are watching episode after episode, you can easily get carried away, lose your sense of time and stay up all night. This has become a part of our reality, we are used to pulling all-nighters when we were studying for an exam or partying hard, but now we are staying up all night to watch ten episodes in a row.

When did binge-watching become a thing? Well, binge-watching is one of those words that got overhyped at some point and became known as a worldwide phenomenon. It got popular around 2013 together with the boom of streaming platforms, but the term itself is derived from similar ones such as binge-eating and binge-drinking. And, did you know that binge-watching was elected for the word of the year 2015? Yes, so it is a real thing, and in a way, it goes with the society of consumerism in which we all live. Think about it, we are able to watch full five seasons of one tv show in less than a week, and then we are done with it, and we go on and search for next one. We no longer watch one season during just one year, God no, we rush and consume it in one day just because we can. There is something called post tv show depression, and it can be applied to streaming content too because since we tend to watch the whole show in just a few days, we get so involved, emotionally and physically, that we experience this kind of depression frequently.

America is known as a sleep-deprived nation, so does binge-watching contribute to that? Most likely yes, many Americans are staying up all night until early morning hours to watch tv series, no matter if they have to go work or school on that morning. And, two or three hours of snoozing are far from enough. So in today’s post, we are going to dig into facts and stats about sleeping and binge-watching.


Binge-Watching Side Effects

Staying up all night is never a good idea, but binge-watching whole night is just spicing things up and messing with us on many different levels. Streaming content mostly impacts our sleep negatively, and it has been estimated that around one-third of binge viewers have some issues with their sleep. However, some other consequences are possible too.

  • Early sleep arousal – it depends on the type of content you are watching, but in most cases, no matter the genre, while we are laying down in bed, relaxing and watching our favorite shows, our brain is not so relaxed. If there is some intense scene going on, our brain will get nervous, and upset, because when we watch a show so long it is not impossible to not get involved. Our heart starts to pound faster, and brain releases more dopamine which is the main reason why we feel some form of addiction and cannot stop watching.
  • Sleep disorders – sleep deprivation and insomnia are most likely to be experienced by people who watch tv shows excessively during the night since once they disrupt their sleep pattern, it is hard to get back on track with a regular sleep routine.
  • Blue light – all electronic devices including our smartphones, tablets, laptops or tv’s emit this so-called blue light, which our brain sees as sunlight and tricks it into thinking that it’s daytime even though it is nighttime. Try lowering the brightness of the screen on your devices during the night, install some apps that block the blue light effects or try some of the blue light blocking glasses.
  • Depression – a study from 2015. showed that people who tend to binge-watch on a regular basis are more introvert, lonely types of people who like to isolate themselves, which sometimes leads to depression, anxiety or other social disorders.
  • Weight – while we are watching our favorite shows we are usually snacking, eating some junk food, ice cream or popcorns, and all that so late at night, while we are laying down in bed. If this is your guilty pleasure or type of Saturday night-in, think about how it can affect your weight and overall appearance.


Binge-Watching And Sleep

Since we love to binge-watch particularly during the night when we should be sleeping and dreaming, it is obvious that those binge habits cannot have a positive impact on our sleep. Streaming services made it possible to watch consecutive episodes in a row, and we all sacrificed our precious sleep time to it. Since America is already known as the sleep-deprived nation, that means that we already are not getting enough sleep and our excessive use of streaming platforms only contributes to the lack of sleep and becomes a sort of addiction.

Some people think that they cannot fall asleep unless they are watching something that will make them fall asleep faster, but that is not entirely true since there are not many pros for falling asleep in front of a screen and Keeping Up With The Kardashians does not work exactly as a lullaby. Recently binge-watching research has gained quite an attention and here are some of the facts that we gathered. Without any surprise, millennials are the biggest group of binge-watchers, they usually stay in bed watching content on streaming platforms and totally mess up their sleep pattern, an even though they are aware of it they are not going to do much to fix it. Around 70% of millennials and X generation falls asleep while there is a streaming content going on. Right behind them are seniors, approximately 53% of them watch streaming content or regular tv programs late at night, but they usually have a problem with admitting that. On the other hand, younger adults are more likely to acknowledge that they have issues with sleeping as a result of excessive watching of online shows, but neither they are willing to change that. Surveys have also shown that Friday and Saturday are the days when most of the people spend their time binge-watching. But are not those days reserved for paying off our sleep debt from the past week?

During the past year, every second American has pulled on at least one all-nighter to binge-watch some tv show, when it comes to sexes, it is almost equal, but men are leading for only a few percents. Most binge-watchers come from Texas and Louisiana, around 60%, while the states in which most people prefer sleeping over streaming content are Wisconsin, Missouri, and Oregon. When it comes to genres, comedies are still our number one genre for binge-watching and entertaining ourselves, but dramas, action or adventure genres are also high on the list. According to some surveys, best tv shows to binge-watch ever are Orange Is The New Black, Breaking Bad, Grey’s Anatomy, Stranger Things, Criminal Minds and so on.

Losing sleep due to streaming content is something that we all experience occasionally, but when it becomes a habit or a regular thing that is when it can threaten not only your sleep but your health and immune system too. As a consequence people experience difficulties with falling or staying asleep, and that shows off on their appearance and wellbeing.


Tips for Getting Enough Sleep and Still Watching Streaming Content

How did we get to the point that we have this kind of a dilemma, to sleep or to watch Netflix? And why cannot we have both of them? Or, maybe we can, but we need to organize our time and stick to our schedule, which can be quite a challenge when you know that there two more seasons waiting for you to binge-watch them as fast as you can.

  • Get a company – we usually watch tv shows alone, and that is why it consumes so much of our time. If there are two or more people together, there are higher chances that someone is going to know when it is enough, and it will be easier for others to quit it too.
  • Pick your binge content wisely – when binge-watching late at night, choose content which is more light, without heavy drama situations or horror movies, because they are more arousing. Go for a relaxing comedy instead or something that would not get you involved or upset in any way.
  • No autoplay – if your autoplay setting is on, there nothing on your way to watch all episodes in a row, but by turning it off, you give yourself a chance to make a break or actually try falling asleep.
  • Get out of the bed – yes, it is the most comfortable thing ever, but while laying comfortable in our bed and watching streaming content we can hardly control how long it is going to last, it always just one more scene, one more episode, and then our alarm sounds on. Watch streaming content in some other room and when you feel tired just quit, and go to sleep without any screens turned on around you.
  • Environment – we turn off all lights, go to bed, and then play some show on our laptop – mistake.  Watching a bright screen in a dark room is such a struggle for our eyes, and it also tricks our brain into thinking that its daytime. If you are going to spend hours in front of a screen anyway, at least turn some light on, it will make it easier for your eyes and save you from a headache.
  • Create a limit – we cannot let some streaming content to control our life, we need to limit the amount of time we spend binge-watching to, for example, two or three episodes per day if they last half an hour each. Or even less, however it works the best for you. Also, schedule your time for watching tv shows before bedtime. Like in the good old days when we had only tv’s without the rewind option, the show starts at eight with or without you, and that is it, if you miss it, you have to wait for the rebroadcast tomorrow.
  • Thirty minutes rule – to give your brain some time to adjust and prepare for sleep, turn of whatever you are watching at least 30 minutes before your preferred bedtime. That way you will be more relaxed, the adrenalin or excitement rush will go away, and it will be easier for you to fall asleep. In those 30 minutes try reading something or practicing yoga, meditation, or simply create your own bedtime routine. Put on a face mask or a cream, do all those pre beauty sleep rituals, if you are a guy also, a bit of pampering won’t hurt anybody.


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