We curl up, grab some snacks and cold drinks, and sit down to binge-watch our favourite shows – that’s probably how you spend your weekend. Isn’t it? The streaming era has changed the way we live, bringing entertainment to millions of viewers whenever and wherever they want it, day or night. Many people enjoy it because it relieves boredom. But when we want more, we become less healthy. Yes, there are many side effects of binge watching on your overall health, particularly your mental health.
Binge watching is a common behaviour now. According to a Netflix survey, 61 percent of users regularly watch 2-6 episodes of a show in one sitting. Once people start binge watching, they can’t stop. It happens because binge watching causes your brain to continuously produce dopamine, a happy hormone. This chemical encourages you to continue enjoying that activity.
HealthShots spoke to Dr Jyoti Kapoor, Senior Psychiatrist and Founder, Manasthali, about the side effects of binge watching.
She says, “Binge watching generates a pseudo-addiction to the show because it is an addictive behaviour. One begins to grapple with how much time one spends watching television. When asked to stop, a person may become hostile, irritable, or difficult in an attempt to conceal their addiction.”
Binge watching is a great way to unwind and disconnect from the world whenever you need a break. However, watching a show continuously can make you feel isolated, according to Dr. Kapoor. It is a phenomenon that can reduce the likelihood of socialising in person in your spare time. As a result, you may become estranged from your family and friends.
Sleep is critical to human health. And when it is compromised, it can lead to a variety of health problems. “Binge watching can throw off your sleep schedule,” says Dr. Kapoor. According to a study published in PubMed Central, binge watching can have a negative impact on your overall health, increasing your risk of mood disturbance, fatigue, and insomnia. Ladies, planning ahead of time can help you avoid sleep deprivation. So keep an eye out.
Long periods of time spent in front of a screen on mobile phones and passively consuming content can increase the risk of cognitive decline. This can leave you feeling tired for days and impair your ability to process and think about any new information.
Watching too much TV is easily caused by a lack of planning when beginning to watch it. This can lead to fatigue. Furthermore, fatigue negates the stress-reduction benefits of binge watching and replaces them with an increased risk of depression and anxiety. Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin discovered a strong link between binge-watching, depression, and loneliness in one study.
People binge watch for relaxation, especially on the weekends and when they have free time. Continuous binge watching, on the other hand, can cause serious mood disruption and behavioural changes. That is why you should set time limits to avoid too much time spent with screens.
Dr Kapoor says, “It’s critical to set a restriction on how much you can view after a specific number of episodes. Turn off the television and do something else when you’ve hit your limit. Make watching TV a social occasion. You can also invite your friends or family members to keep the communication alive.”
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