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Binge Watching Leads To Poorer Sleep Quality, Fatigue And Insomnia: Study

19 August 2017, 7:59 am EDT By Athena Chan Tech Times
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A new study links binge-watching to poor sleep quality, insomnia and fatigue. Researchers believe this is because binge-watching leads to increased alertness that prevents people from falling asleep easily.

Binge-Watching Trend

Results of a new study aren't exactly surprising, but it does shed light into new habits which lead to poor sleeping patterns. Specifically, researchers linked the rising trend of binge-watching to three sleep-related problems: poor sleep quality, insomnia and fatigue.

Researchers from the University of Michigan asked 423 young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 to fill out questionnaires regarding their binge-watching habits as well as certain behavioral variables including the three aforementioned sleep-related problems and pre-sleep cognitive arousal.

Poor Sleep, Fatigue And Insomnia

From the data gathered, 80 percent of the participants reported binge-watching in the last month. Among them, 40 percent binge-watched once, 28 percent binge-watched a few times during the month, 14 percent a few in a week, while 7 percent reported engaging in the activity almost every day.

Using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, the researchers found an association between poor sleep quality and binge-watching. Specifically, they found that binge-watchers were 98 percent more likely to experience poor sleep quality compared with non-binge-watchers.

What's more, a higher frequency of binge-watching was linked to poorer sleep quality, more symptoms of insomnia and increased fatigue during daytime, while regular television watching was not linked to any of these effects.

Pre-Sleep Arousal

Researchers believe that a large part of this link is related to what is called pre-sleep arousal. In this case, binge-watching leaves the viewer alert or mentally wired even when it is already time to sleep, hence leading to sleep problems.

It is because of this that researchers suggest interventions regarding excessive viewing times as well as reductions in pre-sleep arousal activities as possible answers to binge-watchers' sleeping problems.

Accidental Binge-Watching

By definition, binge-watching is the act of watching multiple episodes of a television show in one sitting, regardless of whether the show is being viewed through a television, laptop, tablet, computer, or even a smartphone.

Unlike before when most viewers had to wait a week before the next episode of a show, streaming sites that release all episodes of a series at once have contributed to the rise of the phenomenon. It doesn't help, either, that the proliferation of smartphones allows viewers to watch their favorite shows through a portable device.

Further, researchers note that a large part of this trend is perhaps the good quality of shows. Interestingly, 71 percent of binge-watching incidents are actually unintended, with viewers watching more than they initially intended.

While current shows are entertaining, enjoying them via binge-watching could lead to the lengthening of sleep onset, thereby disturbing sleep altogether. Perhaps a little space to relax the mind before watching the next episode won't hurt, and could even improve sleep and daytime alertness.

The study has been published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

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