New viewing styles and technologies such as digital recorders and streaming services increased the incidence of media binging in today’s society. Binge-watching is defined as watching multiple episodes of the same series in one sitting, and losing sleep as a result of this activity.
Survey of Binging Habits
According to a survey from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), 88% of U.S. adults admitted they had lost sleep due to binge watching of a TV show or streaming series. If we include American’s bedtime reading, playing video games and watch sports, this number jumps to 95% in 18-44-year-olds.
Interestingly, Americans rank sleep as one of their highest priorities for healthier life. They seem aware of the importance of the sleep for health and the serious consequences of sleep deprivation and insomnia.
“Sleep is essential to health, well-being and safety, and chronic insufficient sleep can lead to an increased risk of health problems, mood disorders and motor vehicle accidents.”
-- AASM President Dr. Kelly A. Carden, sleep physician with Saint Thomas Medical Partners-Sleep Specialists.
Binging can lead to guilt, frustration, worry — and even less sleep
Unfortunately, prioritizing entertainment instead of sleep can cause negative feelings.
The increasingly prevalent binge-viewing habit has many harmful effect on our health and it was strongly associated with sleep loss, sleep disturbance and insomnia.
The ongoing sleep problems lead to other medical or psychiatric conditions, such as fatigue, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, mood changes and low energy. Binge viewers also reported higher levels of loneliness, isolation and depression.
Most of the binge viewers admit their feelings of frustrated, upset and guilty with their behavior afterwards. These feelings can even boost the sleep problems, as negative thoughts about missing sleep might make it harder to fall asleep — especially when one tries to make up for the lost time.
With endless distractions, technologies, social media and entertainment options readily available, prioritizing the sleep is getting even more difficult especially for the young generations. Setting up a routine sleep time and sleep hygiene may help to avoid the long-term negative effect of sleep problems.
If you have ongoing habit of binge-watching or game playing, you should look for medical care or consult a professional, who can assess your sleep problems for help.
Author: Tina Ureten, MD, RDMS, RDCS