You wake up in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep. Tossing and turning is making you anxious. So you turn on the TV and catch up on the latest Netflix series.
Here’s another typical scenario. You have FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) because everyone at your office was watching Game of Thrones and you never did. Now you are trying to figure out what all the hoopla was about by watching four episodes a night.
Just FYI, it’s going to take you a while. There are eight seasons.
Binge watching occasionally? No problem. Like everything else in life, moderation is key. But regular binge watching is a poor lifestyle choice with at least three major health consequences.
Consequence #1: A sedentary lifestyle is deleterious to your overall health.
Multi-episodic TV watching means you are sitting for long periods of time. And being sedentary is a significant public health issue.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “Only 21% of adults are meeting the physical activity guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week and less than five percent perform 30 minutes of physical activity per day.”
Recent research confirms how a sedentary life can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular and metabolic disease and even an increased risk of death.
If that is not enough to get you to turn off the TV and leap out of your recliner, couch potatoes have a high incidence of depression and other mental health disorders.
Consequence #2:Your TV emits blue light which may negatively impact your eye health and sleep cycle.
Binge watching can lead to poor sleep quality, increased fatigue, eye strain and insomnia. Blame it on the blue light. According to Hollywood Ophthalmologist Inna Ozerov MD, “Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum, with wavelengths of about 415 nm to 495 nm. Blue light can be divided into two bands: blue-violet light (415-455 nm) and blue-turquoise light (465-495 nm). The largest source of blue light is the sunlight but computer monitors, cell phones, tablets, TV screens all emit blue light. Recent studies have found that Blue-violet light may cause harm to the delicate cells that make up the retina and may be implicated in the development of age-related macular degeneration or AMD.”
It can also delay the release of melatonin, the hormone which regulates sleep and reset your circadian rhythm. The result is sleep deprivation which can lead to fatigue, depression, memory issues and even heart problems.
Consequence #3: Binge watching can lead to binge eating.
Binge watching and binge eating often go hand in hand. From personal experience, binge watching is often associated with poor snack choices.A reasonable portion of anything on an occasional basis is not a cause for concern. However, most of us are not preparing stacks of celery sticks to munch on as we get cozy comfy on the couch. And while air-popped popcorn with no added sugar or salt is low in calories and high in fiber, oil-popped, flavored popcorn can be a slippery slope. Mindless snacking, even on so called “healthy choices” can lead to obesity and the related medical consequences.
In the mood to mindlessly binge watch or have a chunk of time on your hands? Break it up. Watch an episode and then throw in a load of laundry, grab your mat and do some sit-ups or run an errand. If the binge takes place at night, limit yourself to one episode before disconnecting and trying to fall asleep.
Finally, if you must binge watch, invite others to join you and make it a social occasion. Just don’t forget to serve the celery sticks.