Is Binge Watching Bad for You?

We’ve all done it: The latest season of our favorite new show is available to stream online, and we can’t … stop … watching.

Whether you’re catching up on the exploits of ruthless politicians or the adventures of kings and dragons, it’s hard to look away, especially when you’ve got at least 12 episodes and a free weekend at your disposal. Binge watching may seem like a harmless pastime — but does it actually put your health at risk?

Real Risks of Binge Watching

Earlier this year, a New York man set a Guinness World Record for TV binge watching: He sat glued to his screen for 94 hours straight. The stunt earned him a cool $2,000, but it also raised some troubling questions about this practice. Here are just some of the concerns associated with binge watching:

  • You become a couch potato. Binge watching encourages you to remain sedentary for long periods of time, sacked out on your couch with little motivation to move. Over time, being inactive can raise your risk of weight gain, obesity, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. The very act of sitting — independent from a lack of physical activity — has also been linked to these problems.
  • Your sleep suffers. Even if you’re not trying for a world record, binge watching makes it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. When you skimp on shut-eye, your health pays: Sleep deprivation has been tied to a slew of problems, from overeating (typically unhealthy fare) and high blood pressure to hallucinations and even seizures.
  • Your mood drops. Binge-watchers have reported feeling stressed, anxious, let down, and sad when they finish a season — and experiencing such emotions can make us compelled to overeat and become even more sedentary.

RELATED: How Does Media Use Affect Your Child?

TV Or No TV?

So what should you do? We’re not suggesting you cancel your streaming service and say goodbye to your favorite characters — that seems extreme, not to mention, not very fun. But there are ways to enjoy shows without risking your health.

Limit your viewing to a couple of episodes at a time, then get up and go for a walk. Avoid snacking while you watch. And get a full night of sleep: Your favorite shows will still be there in the morning.