I drove home on a Friday evening tired of sorting invoices and maintaining books for petty clients. Relieved it was the weekend and excited that my favorite show’s latest season was out on Netflix. Therefore, I got home, cooked myself a nice meal, logged in to Netflix and lost track. It was when my landlady knocked on the door that I realized it was Saturday afternoon. I enjoyed watching all those episodes back to back, but the worried look on her face made me realize for the first time, that it wasn’t normal nor an acceptable behavior.
So what exactly is binge-watching? Just a cool name for addiction to TV. It existed long before we had any kind of streaming service, but services like Netflix and Hulu have definitely aided in blowing it up. Back in the days when cable TV was the only option, there were people who could watch TV day in and day out, but since they didn’t have the option to watch something they liked all the time this behavior stayed under control. Now, it’s just spinning out of control with streaming services offering videos on demand. Even the cable operators have noticed this trend and started offering streaming services of their own, e.g. Spectrum has come up with Spectrum TV Essentials for its internet users. This is a streaming service for their internet customers who do not want to sign up for Optimum TV but would like to watch a few popular channels on their phones or tablets.
Binge-watching – A sport
This addiction to watching TV shows or movies back to back has actually turned into a sport. The TV has become a passion for these people who actually race each other to watch. They’re proud of how fast they can watch shows in a go, staying up all night without any knowledge of the outside world. This indeed is problematic, even though we may think of it as something outstanding that requires lots of stamina.
Binge Watching – Problems
You stop doing healthy things in life when you’re binge-watching. You exercise less, eat more, sleepless, and isolate yourself. A deadly cocktail of habits I must say. Do this in the long term and you’ll definitely end up with various health issues. Let’s discuss a few obvious ones.
1. Sleep Loss
It is common knowledge now that the blue light emitted from our cellphone screens makes it difficult to sleep. It’s the same with TV or computer screens too. Doctors recommend that we switch off any screens at least an hour before sleeping.
Many people would swear that falling off to sleep while watching TV has never affected their sleep quality. In fact, I don’t even have to go that far for an example, my own father does it and he lives a happy and healthy life. Although, if you’re deliberately staying awake to watch something, that’s a problem.
Sleep deprivation has negative effects on your brain and the immune system. An adult needs somewhere between 6 – 8 hours of sleep each night to function binge-watching through the day. So in order to stay healthy, it is a good idea to follow the advice of the experts and get those ZZZZZs.
Of course, watching movies or TV shows cannot make you fat. Nevertheless, lack of activity and poor food choices that accompany binge-watching most definitely can. When you’re so absorbed in watching something you obviously won’t get up to prepare a proper meal for yourself. Hence, the fast-food we order online or the unhealthy snacks that we love to munch on. We also lose track of how much we’re eating, sometimes even ignoring the stomach’s signals of being full.
There’s no solid research that links binge-watching to depression. However, if you are a binge-watcher yourself or know someone who does this regularly, you can notice that it is an addiction which makes people feel lonely and unhappy when they’re on their own and not watching something. In fact, sometimes they can feel lonely among family and friends because they’d rather be on Netflix. It encourages solitude but in a very unhealthy way….physically and mentally.
4. Heart Disease
Just like any other activity that includes lots of sitting around, binge-watching contributes towards increasing the risk of heart disease. Sitting for prolonged periods of time can also cause blood clots in the arms and legs which can then travel to the lungs causing a pulmonary embolism.
It is not a problem to watch your favorite shows or movies. In fact, I would say it’s much needed with our hectic lifestyles. Although, when entertainment holds you its prisoner, that’s where the problem begins.