Increasing frequency of TV binge-watching had a direct relationship with self-reported fatigue and more symptoms of insomnia, which were explained nearly entirely by increased cognitive arousal prior to falling asleep.
As a result, the team hopes this new research can give people a better idea of the risks that come with binge-watching TV and help provide new insight into the problem. The participants filled in an online questionnaire that assessed how often they watched TV and how often they binge-watched. This can be done on a television, laptop, tablet, computer or smartphone.
This study included 423 youngsters, between 18 to 25 years of age. Pre sleep arousal was also higher among binge watchers.
But why is binge watching so bad for sleep? It was revealed that more than 80% of youngsters agreed that they are binge-watchers and 20.2% of them did so a couple of times a week in the previous month.
Young adults who binge-watched TV reported more sleep problems and fatigue as compared with people with more moderate TV-watching habits, researchers reported in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Those who admitted to binge watching more frequently were also more likely to report insomnia, poor sleep, and a higher level of cognitive arousal (feeling energized or wide awake even late at night). Regular television watching was not associated with any of these.
"Our study signals that binge viewing is prevalent in young adults and that is may be harmful to their sleep".
After binge-watching TV shows, one usually has a racing heart or one that beats irregularly, and is mentally alert. The researchers suggest interventions when it comes to excessive viewing, in order to reduce pre-sleep arousal and encourage better sleeping habits. The researchers observed that a large part of the trend is the good quality of the shows being put out. Women reported binge watching more often, but men did it for more hours at a time. "[Bingewatching] prolongs sleep onset or, in other words, requires a longer period to "cool down" before going to sleep, thus affecting sleep overall".
They answered questions about the quality of their sleep using a standard questionnaire called the "Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index".
"Bingeable shows often have a complex narrative structure that makes viewers become completely immersed into the story", says co-author Jan Van den Bulck, PhD, professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of MI in Ann Arbor.