Binge-Watching TV Linked with Fatigue and Insomnia

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Young adults who binge-watch television shows are much more likely to suffer from insomnia and fatigue and suffer from a low quality of sleep.

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Recent Studies

The Belgian University of Leuven conducted a study with 423 adults aged between 18 and 25, with a mean age of 22. 62 per cent of the participants were female, whereas 74 per cent of those surveyed were students. The survey was completed online and assessed their TV watching routines and habits while also evaluating their sleep patterns.

According to recent studies, binge-watching results in increased cognitive alertness, making it more difficult to sleep. Within the younger adults polled, over 80 per cent identify as a binge-watcher of television, and 20 per cent of these are guilty of binge-watching a few times each week.

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Binge-watching is defined as viewing consecutive episodes of a television show on a screen during one sitting. An average session of binge-watching is reported to last over three hours, and 52 per cent admit to viewing between three and four episodes during one sitting.

Side Effects

Those surveyed reported increased symptoms of poor sleep quality, greater alertness, fatigue and insomnia prior to heading to bed. Further analysis has shown that those guilty of binge-watching television shows are 98 per cent more likely to suffer with poor sleep quality compared to those that do not consider themselves binge-watchers.

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Often the pattern shows that those young adults who binge-watch have a higher cognitive arousal before sleep, meaning sleep quality is negatively impacted, leading to insomnia and fatigue.

As reported by the NHS, a lack of sleep is hugely detrimental to our health. Despite this, one in three of us continues to suffer from poor quality of sleep.

Binge-watching becomes tempting because of a greater choice in television shows being broadcast, particularly those with complex narrative structures that leave the audience immersed in the story. It becomes all the more difficult to switch off when left with a cliff-hanger.

An intense engagement with the screen is likely to require longer periods to cool down before finally drifting off to sleep, which affects our sleep patterns overall.

Suggestions have been made that streaming services of television shows should allow viewers to pre-select maximum viewing periods.

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