These days, the opportunity to binge-watch your favorite TV shows is literally at your fingertips. There’s Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Fire Stick, AppleTV, Roku, OnDemand – I could continue, but I think you get the point. It may seem harmless to sit and veg out for a few hours while catching up on your favorite sitcoms, and it probably is if it only happens on rare occasions, but researchers shows that 61 percent of TV watchers admit to regular periods of binge-watching. If you watch between two and six episodes of a show in one sitting (the parameters that experts use to define “binge-watching”, the rest of this article is for you.
We’ll start here, since weight management is kind of our thing. Research shows that for every 2 hours of TV that you watch per day, you’re 23 percent more likely to become obese and 14 percent more likely to develop diabetes. To add to that, the type of shows you watch may impact these numbers further. If you’re regularly watching shows on the Food Network, this can increase your desire to overeat and nosh on unhealthy food choices.
Research also shows that viewers tend to make poorer snack choices when engrossed in the television. If you’re mindlessly munching on chips or candy while you’re glued to the tube, it could inhibit your weight loss and even cause you to pack on the pounds.
It’s not just weight that’s a concern though. Other research shows that binge-watching TV can increase your risk of developing diabetes by up to 14 percent. Doing so also increases the risk of both cancer and heart disease. It’s not the TV itself that’s too blame, but the extended period of sitting.
Binge watching TV later in the evening can also negatively affect your sleep. Research shows that staring into the fluorescent light of a television or computer screen can result in a harder time falling asleep, an inability to reach REM sleep, and resulting grogginess the next morning. This is because the “blue light” given off by screens disrupts the release of melatonin, the hormone responsible for controlling your sleep cycles.
So what’s a reality TV show loving person to do?
You don’t have to cut out the tube completely, but be smart about your viewing time. Try to watch no more than 2 hours of television at a time. Instead of sitting in one place, get up and walk around the house during commercial breaks; do jumping jacks; or stretch. If possible, watch TV only in the daylight hours. Get your fix in before the sun goes down so the blue light from the screens affects your hormones less.