You only meant to watch one episode, but before you knew it, you found yourself watching a whole season of a television series in one evening. Or, you planned your rainy afternoon around catching up with the show everyone is talking about. This is called binge-watching, and many of us are guilty of it. With new content coming online all the time, and older shows available on demand, it’s become normal for people to lose themselves in entertainment.
Experts warn that binge-watching can have some negative effects on your health. A 2017 University of Michigan study found binge-watchers had more instances of poor sleep quality and problems with insomnia because the light from the television screen can interfere with neurotransmitters in the brain.
Another study found binge-watching increases the risk of health problems related to sedentary behavior, included Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Binge-watching also has been linked to obesity because it encourages snacking, and people often grab unhealthy things to munch on while embarking on a TV marathon.
This doesn’t mean you have to throw away the TV remote. There are steps you can take to enjoy binge-watching in a healthier way. First, take breaks between episodes. Walk around, stretch, maybe exercise a bit to get the blood flowing again. Next, if you’re going to snack during a binge, make sure you choose healthy items such as low-calorie popcorn or fruit. Finally, limit television watching before going to sleep. Instead, relax the old-fashioned way: Open a book.
As with most things in life, moderation is key. Use these tips to make your next binge-watching session fun but not hazardous to your health.