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Binge-Watching Leads To Poorer Sleep, Among Other Things

21 Août 2017

Researchers found that more than 80 per cent of young adults identified themselves as a binge-watcher, with 20.2 per cent of them binge-watching at least a few times a week in the previous month.

Young adults who binge-watched TV reported more sleep problems and fatigue as compared with people with more moderate TV-watching habits, researchers reported in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

In addition, the more a person binge-watched, the poorer the sleep quality and the more symptoms of insomnia and fatigue showed during the day.

Lead author Liese Exelmans from the School for Mass Communication Research at the University of Leuven in Belgium noted, "We found that the more often young people binge-watch, the higher their cognitive pre-sleep arousal".

The method employed for the study was to hand out questionnaires to 423 young adults (18-25 years old). Sixty-two percent of participants were women, and 74% were students.

Not only does on-demand TV tempt us to keep watching episode after episode, say the study's authors, but the shows are also created to draw us in, boost suspense and emotionally invest in plot lines and characters. In short, binge-watching leaves viewers mentally stimulated even when it's time to sleep, causing sleep-related disorders. Also, when they decide it's time to go to bed, they are still under the influence of the action and it takes them more to calm down and get ready to fall asleep.

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Although men did it less frequently their viewing sessions were nearly twice as long as women's, reports the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

"This intense engagement with television content could require a longer period to "cool down" before going to sleep, thus affecting sleep overall", said Van den Bulck.

"Bingeable shows often have a complex narrative structure that makes viewers become completely immersed into the story", said Jan Van den Bulck, professor at the University of MI.

Not getting enough sleep has been linked to physical and mental health problems including reduced memory and learning ability, obesity, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. They also were more exhausted and felt less rested after a night of sleep although they did get reasonable hours of sleep.

Furthermore, while researchers did find that participants slept an average of seven and a half hours per night, which is within the recommended average of seven to nine hours, they noted that sleep quality and timing was severely lacking.

Binge-Watching Leads To Poorer Sleep, Among Other Things