Binge Watching May Be Ruining Your Sleep, According to Science

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Svetlana Cherkasova)

Hey, pals. It pains me to break it to you, but I’ve got some bad news about our new national pastime: binge watching. Yes, it is still more enjoyable than most of the plans you could possibly make during winter, but it—like so many of the other simple joys that make life worth living—can be hazardous to your health if not employed with a certain amount of moderation.

Now if you feel like you can mainline episodes of Living Single and conk out exactly at 10:30 pm every night, go forth and be blessed. But if you find yourself struggling to fall asleep or catch yourself feeling drowsy during the day, episode after episode of Khadijah and co. might have something to do with it.

Researchers from University of Michigan and the University of Leuven in Belgium found that a normal amount of TV viewing (two hours) didn’t affect the people in the study that much. But when viewers tipped into binge territory with three hours or more of TV, they started to see a correlation between the marathon sessions and sleeplessness.

The researchers think it may have to do with “pre-sleep arousal.” Because bingeing a show gets you way more invested in the storylines and outcomes, your brain is significantly more riled up than it would be with regular viewing, so it takes it longer to calm down, and thus, fall asleep.

Unless you find yourself struggling to fall asleep night after night because you’re bingeing Black Mirror, you can just take this study as something to consider when thinking about your sleep patterns, rather than an argument for canceling Netflix all together. Being mindful about your TV habits is just one of many steps you can take for a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

TV to enjoy responsibly: