Is Binge Watching Bad For Your Brain?
We live in a time where series hogs almost all of our free time. We don’t even have to get up to change the DVDs anymore. Sitting down for a “relaxing” evening in front of the TV, we might actually be doing more harm than good. Is binge watching bad for your brain?
Which kind of binge watcher are you?
Netflix classified three kinds of binge-watchers according to how much time people spend watching series and which shows they prefer: “fast”, “moderate”, and “relaxed”.
The “fast” binger spends about 2.5 hours a day watching series and finishes one season of a show in four days. The genres that appeals to them most are horrors, thrillers, and sci-fi. They are the most likely to feel depressed after they finished a show.
“Moderate” bingers take about five days to finish a show and spend about 2 hours a day watching. They prefer lighter shows with less drama like dramatic comedies, crime dramas, and superhero shows.
Lastly, the “relaxed” binger spends about 1.75 hours a day in front of their screen and finishes a show in about six days. The shows that interest them are political or historical stories, and light-hearted comedies.
Is binge watching bad for your mental health?
Binge watching has been linked to feelings of guilt, loneliness, and depression. It isolates us from the rest of the world by keeping us at home instead of spending time out-and-about with our loved ones. Individuals already suffering from depression and anxiety are more likely to binge-watch and might feel the effect a little bit more intensely.
Never switching off
When we watch a story instead of actually relaxing, it causes our brains to stay “on”, never getting time to rest. Some shows are also very violent and gruesome, which has a negative impact on our thoughts. Our brains struggle to distinguish between fact and fiction, especially with the quality of the production of series these days which make them very believable.
Lower sleep quality
Binge watching also interferes with our ability to get quality sleep. We tend to stay up late to finish watching just one more episode instead of going to bed. When we eventually do go to bed, our brains are still hyped up and finding it difficult to shut down. Research has shown that the blue light from screens impact the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps us sleep. It doesn’t just affect our ability to fall asleep but also the quality of our sleep, which then affects our health.
Should you stop watching series altogether?
You can still watch your favourite shows without harming your mental health. Try to keep two or three nights a week series-free to relax, soaking in a bath with a glass of wine, listening to music, going to bed early, or spending time with your friends or family.
Set some time limits to keep you from watching too much in one sitting, or only watch series during holidays or over the weekend when you are more relaxed anyway.
If you find that you’re struggling to focus on your work or studies, try adjusting your diet by adding some healthy snacks.
Finally, stop binge watching bad shows – and by bad we mean excellent shows that upset you. Maybe you can’t handle the blood and action in Game of Thrones or the emotional drama of Grey’s Anatomy. Pick shows that make you feel happy and comfortable watching them.