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Top 10 Ways Binge-Watching Is Ruining Your Health

by Courtney Ciandella
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Occasionally, you may see Internet posts that challenge you to binge-watch your favorite TV show or channel. Best of all, you get paid if you’re selected and complete the challenge.

In 2019, Internet Service Partners promoted a competition to award $1,000 to one person to watch 24 Hallmark Christmas movies within 12 days. The winner had to submit a personal critique on each movie and update her social media followers throughout the experience.

Similarly, in honor of the 15-year anniversary of The Office, the TV provider Dish is now inviting people to apply for a chance to watch 15 hours of the beloved series for $1,000. Only one lucky viewer will be selected. (We’ll give you the link to apply in entry one of this list.)

Although these contests are genius marketing tools by the companies, should we condone having people spend even more hours in front of their television screens? As easy as it is to binge-watch your favorite shows, doing so may be ruining your health.

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10 It Can Dull Your Brain

If you frequently binge on Netflix, the hours you spend in front of the tube may be seriously damaging your brain.

According to Healthline, viewing more than three hours of television every day may eventually lead to cognitive impairment related to your memory and language skills. Although it probably seemed safe as a child to indulge in a few hours of TV time after school, you may have been doing more harm than you realized.[1]

For one, watching over 3.5 hours of TV each day wastes time that could be better spent on more intellectually stimulating activities like reading or playing board games. If binge-watching is your go-to hobby, you may want to consider reading a book instead.

9 You Isolate Yourself For Hours On End

Most households are equipped with more than one television for viewing pleasure. With so many devices and shared streaming accounts, everyone in the house can watch different programs without disturbing each other. You can easily isolate yourself in a house full of people by being glued to your devices.

According to Psychology Today, a MarketCast survey in the US indicated that 56 percent of participants prefer to binge-watch by themselves, which makes it easier to lose track of time. Watching TV in groups or with a partner can help you from getting too deep into the binge.[2]

8 You Suffer From A Lack Of Fresh Air And Vitamin D

Congratulations. At this point, you’ve possibly damaged your brain while separating yourself from the rest of the world due to your obsessive relationship with The Office.

But your compulsive binge-watching may also deprive you of natural light. According to an article in Time, staying indoors all day could mess with your circadian clock, a biochemical regulator of your sleep, appetite, and energy.[3]

Spending more time in nature can improve your mood and mental health. In fact, if you’re feeling anxious and depressed, it’s most likely due to your excessive binge-watching habit. Consider taking a walk outside a few times a day at the very least.

7 Binge-Watching Also Means Binge Eating

Are you gaining weight and unsure if the junk food stash next to your bed is the culprit?

It probably is. Remember how deprivation from the outside world may make you feel depressed? In turn, this can cause you to binge eat. According to WebMd, binge eating can be triggered by anger, anxiety, boredom, sadness, and other negative emotions.[4]

Even though the comedy of The Office will make you smile the whole way through, bingeing on the show can still evoke certain emotions that will make you reach for the cookies. Keep this in mind the next time you bypass the fruits and vegetables in the grocery store and go down the junk food aisle.

6 A Regular Exercise Routine Is Thrown Out The Window

According to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, sitting for long periods of time may raise your risk of heart disease and death. If your only form of exercise these days is walking to get the remote you left on the other side of the room, you are doing your body a serious disservice.

Any amount of activity is better than sitting, even if you are only stepping away for 30 minutes at a time. Doing chores or any light activity may reduce your risk of death by 17 percent. As a side benefit, you can eliminate that dirty laundry pile that’s been taking over your bathroom.[5]

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5 You Find It Difficult To Focus On Work Or Other Tasks

Sometimes, when you’re in the middle of a good show, you may find yourself thinking about what will happen next. Even when you’re just gabbing with your friends, you may end up talking about the new show you are watching. It can be super distracting even when you don’t have the TV turned on.

Stepping away from binge-watching can do more than increase your time for outdoor activities. It can also help clear your mind—allowing you to focus on more important tasks than whatever show you’re obsessed with that week.[6]

4 You Get Very Lazy

Typically, when you get really engrossed in a show, all your attention is focused on the screen. In that moment, you are not doing laundry or scrubbing the tub out of fear that you might miss something. This leads to an epic train of laziness that’s hard to overcome.[7]

When you go on a relaxing vacation or stay at home because you’re sick for an extended period, it’s always harder at the end to resume your daily routine. Same goes for insane binge-watching. You get trapped. It’s like the lyrics from that old Eagles’ song Hotel California:

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door,
I had to find the passage back to the place I was before,
‘Relax,’ said the night man,
‘We are programmed to receive.
You can check out any time you like,
But you can never leave!’

3 You Have Difficulty Sleeping

Some people turn to the TV to help them fall asleep at night. While it may work for some individuals, reports that 88 percent of adults have sacrificed sleep to binge-watch television.[8]

This can negatively impact your health by reducing your quality of sleep, increasing insomnia, and making you more alert before you go to bed.

2 Your Body Gets Stiff From Lack Of Movement

Unless you are someone who frequently watches TV while walking on a treadmill, the same risks arise from binge-watching television as from sitting at your desk at work all day. Experts at the Mayo Clinic found that sitting for over eight hours each day without engaging in other physical activity carries a death risk like that of smoking and obesity.[9]

The Mayo doctors recommend that you take an activity break every half hour to avoid long-term sitting. That’s one good thing about commercial breaks: They give you the opportunity to step away from the TV without missing your show.

1 You Put Yourself In A Binge-Watching Cycle That Doesn’t End

It’s a vicious cycle. You start watching one episode. Before you know it, five hours have gone by and you are halfway through a series. You didn’t expect to get this far into the Netflix vortex, but here you are.

Just starting that first episode can be dangerous, especially if it’s a captivating show that keeps you from going to sleep. Or maybe you’re getting paid $1,000 to binge-watch The Office.[10]

Usually, you should set a time limit as to how much TV you will watch before turning in. Or stick to viewing a movie at night that is guaranteed to end within a couple of hours. That way, you won’t get sucked into a binge.

The announcement of several new streaming services is tempting us to never leave our homes again. So you may not drop your unhealthy binge-watching habit cold turkey. However, these health risks are scary enough to make us want to step away from the screen for at least short periods of time.

Although it’s easier said than done, we’re optimistic that we can pull ourselves away from the TV screen if we do it together. Until then, tell us in the comments about your binge-watching experiences.

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About The Author: Courtney is a writer, fitness enthusiast, Advent yogi, and your go-to girl for all the latest celebrity news. She also has an embarrassing obsession with awards shows.

fact checked by Jamie Frater