You kick back in your couch with a snack in hand and commence to turning your laptop on so you can start binge-watching your favorite show. Three hours later you say to yourself “just one more episode,” but by this time you’re overwhelmingly invested in your favorite characters and can’t bear to part ways. So one more quickly leads to two, two leads to four, and before you know it you’ve finished an entire season. But then you realize you only have three hours to sleep. Regret immediately kicks in.

Is the scenario sounding all-too-familiar for you?

With binge-watching becoming such a popular pastime–thanks to streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Kodi– many teenagers, and young adults can likely relate. However satisfying binge-watching is, there’s no doubt that neglecting sleep will eventually have some adverse effects. In fact, in a recently published study, researchers investigated the correlation between binge-watching and sleeping habits and found that binge-watching does indeed “negatively affect overall sleep quality.”

“We found that the more often young people binge-watch, the higher their cognitive pre-sleep arousal,” principal investigator and the study’s lead author Liese Exelmans, a doctoral candidate in the School for Mass Communication Research at the University of Leuven in Belgium, said in a statement. “That in turn negatively affected sleep quality, fatigue and insomnia.”

For the study, the researchers worked with 423 adults between the ages of 18-25. Via survey, these participants were assessed on their regular TV viewing, binge viewing, and sleep quality, fatigue, insomnia and pre-sleep arousal.

Of the participants, 80.8 percent reported that they binge-watched, the study reports. And among those, 39.6 percent did it once a month before the study, 28.4 percent a few times, 11. 7 percent once a week, 15.5 percent a few times during the week, and 6.7 percent said they binge-watched every, according to the researchers.

The researchers also found that individuals who watched more frequently were likely to spend less time on a binge-watching session. However, those who said they were binge-watchers reported more fatigue and were 98 percent more likely to have poorer sleep quality than those who never binge-watched.

“Bingeable shows often have a complex narrative structure that makes viewers become completely immersed into the story,” co-author Jan Van den Bulck, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor said.  “This intense engagement with television content could require a longer period to ‘cool down’ before going to sleep, thus affecting sleep overall.”

As a conclusion to the study, the researchers suggested viewers should be alerted of excessive viewing duration, as one way to reverse poor sleeping quality due to binge-watching.

Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons



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