How does binge watching affect your health?

Bad news for those who love to binge watch the Walking Dead – it might turn you into an actual zombie.

Research by the Leuven School for Mass Communication Research in Belgium and the University of Michigan has found that binge viewing TV shows can lead to fatigue, poorer sleep quality and increased insomnia. Watching TV shows the old fashioned way (episode by episode as they are released) does not have the same effect. Thank goodness Game Of Thrones only comes out weekly!

Staying awake to watch your favourite TV show like Rick and Morty? You’re not alone.

Binge viewing, according to the Oxford Dictionary, involves watching multiple episodes of (a television program) in rapid succession.  And lots of us are guilty of this.

Deloitte’s 2017 Media Consumer Survey finds that Australians streaming video on demand has surpassed Pay TV subscriptions for the first time (32% of people streamed video in 2017, compared to 22% in 2016).

The survey also reveals that nearly a third of respondents (29%) binge on TV weekly (that is, watching three or more consecutive TV episodes in a single sitting). The average length of binge TV viewing sessions has also increased from five to six episodes over the past year (approximately 4.5 hours).

Video streaming services like Stan or Netflix make bingeing too easy. In fact, with both sites you have to actually opt out of watching the next episode of a series because it starts automatically.

Yeah, go on.

But if you can’t help yourself and you just have to get through that series, here are some ways to make your bingeing a little bit healthier:

  1. Switch off your screens an hour or two before bed
  2. If you can’t fall asleep, reach for a book instead
  3. Install a program like Flux which softens the screen brightness and removes the blue light from your devices at night (that pesky light that suppresses melatonin)