There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the internet is an incredible and valuable tool which, for the most part, facilitates our lives in countless ways. The flip side of that observation is that the temptation to stay connected for long periods of time is affecting how we sleep. Yes, there is a study for that!
Studies pop up every day examining how we interact with people, places, and things, and through extensive research, present the benefits or risks of some of the crazy things we do! Enter binge watching: an activity in which we remain connected to our devices to stream endless episodes of programs we missed during the day because we are earning a living. So, when do we sleep?
The drama, the intrigue, the mystery, and occasionally the comedy-based shows I streamed had me hooked like a bag of chips! Not only is the Internet a seemingly bottom-less pit of entertainment, but it should now come with a caution. The lure of easily accessible programs was so powerful and unfortunately for me, it affected not only my sleep, but my mood during the day.
Back in the old days I didn’t have the same access to channels that I do now, and as such I only watched a couple of shows and patiently waited a whole week to watch the next episode. If I wasn’t home at the time of the screening, I would pull out my video recorder and set it to watch later. Fast forward to the era of the Internet, my favourite programs had grown to many more, and I didn’t need to wait a whole week to watch the next episode.
As many of these shows typically end in cliff-hangers, why would I possibly wait when the resolution is just a click away. And so, the binging began.
My binge watching due to uncontrollable impulses caused me to get only few hours of sleep, and due to the blue light from my computer screen, it was not a restful sleep experience. The excitement from some of the story lines was enough to keep me tossing and turning.
Some people may suffer from similar fitful sleep when they can’t put a book down, but the blue light from the screen was clearly affecting the production of melatonin which kicks in only in low light. I began suffering from insomnia, and as a result I became very moody. Concentration during the day became an issue, and I suffered brain fog regularly.
It was only when I had a routine visit with my medical practitioner that I learned how my insomnia and poor quality of sleep affected my blood pressure and contributed to my daily headaches, which I thought were work-stress related. It was the binge watching that affected the quality of my sleep which, in turn affected my health. The easy access to endless streaming which provided me with that regular dose of adrenaline rush or side-splitting comedy had become my addiction which needed an intervention!
To improve the quality of my sleep and restore my health, I no longer bring devices into my bedroom, follow a workable sleep hygiene routine, and save any watching of programs for the weekend, and only for 2 hours at time.
Angela, Your Sleep Expert