Why Binge-Watching Sabotages Sleep

September 05, 2017

Binge-watching your favorite television series can lead to poor sleep, suggests a new study.

A new article in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine recently examined the sleep histories and television viewing habits of more than 420 people between the ages of 18 and 25. What they found: Binge-watchers suffered from a higher level of fatigue and experienced poorer sleep quality than people who viewed different television programs for the same amount of time before bed, explained study author Liese Exelmans.

Almost a fifth of study participants also admitted to binge-watching at least three times a week in one month, while nearly seven percent claimed to do so every day.

What’s so bad about binge-watching?

“Being engaged with the same television content for a prolonged period of time, especially right before bed, doesn’t allow your brain to properly wind down. It can leave people thinking about the series, what happened, and what will happen next," says Shalini Manchanda, MD, sleep specialist at Indiana University Health. “This mental state can naturally increase arousal in the brain which can lead to a longer "cool-down" period before a viewer is actually able to fall asleep, thwarting sleep quality.”

This affect, says Dr. Manchanda, may become worse with certain programs. “Stressful or suspenseful plotlines or stories may cause the viewer to experience an adrenaline spike,” she says. “So, for best sleep you may want to avoid binge-watching shows that highlight characters in distress or those that focus on more riveting themes.”

Instead, she says, give your brain a break before bed.

“If you are going to binge-watch, time it right and stop your session at least an hour before you head to sleep,” suggests Dr. Manchanda.

Set on binge watching before bed?

For a sounder slumber, consider selecting something calm, she says, like a cooking, travel or nature show.

-- By Sarah Burns

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