It’s Friday night, and there’s no way that you’re going out. So what do you do? Netflix. Netflix, eat pizza, ice cream and everything else you can find. Before you know it, it’s 2 A.M. and you’ve just spent six hours watching a screen without moving once. Have you ever wondered how that could impact you? Whether it’s your eyes, brain, butt or mental health, binge watching Netflix or any other outlet for hours on end can really hurt you. Binge watching TV can range from four episodes in a row to 10, and even more. There are so many negative effects of doing this, you may want to think twice before turning on the TV and putting on your sweats. Here are several of the ways it impacts your body:
1. You may be slowing down your metabolism
According to NPR, epidemiologist Steven Blair spent 40 years investigating physical activity and health in relation to sitting and watching TV. “If you’re sitting, your muscles are not contracting, perhaps except to type,” Blair says. “But the big muscles, like in your legs and back, are sitting there pretty quietly.” And because the major muscles aren’t moving, your metabolism slows down. When you have a slower metabolism, this means that you are digesting your food at a slower rate than people with a faster metabolism. This can lead to weight gain and many other health problems associated with your digestive system.
2. Your eyes are strained
According to Dr. Rebecca M. Sappington, Ph.D, Assistant Professor at Vanderbilt School of Opthamology and Visual Sciences, watching Netflix or TV for an extended period of time can cause eye muscle fatigue and, “therefore, reduced ability to accommodate (change focus).” Itt can also lead to headaches which can cause discomfort. Another side effect is that you blink less when staring at a screen, so eyes can become dry—leading to redness and a “scratchy” feeling. Dr. David Calkins, Ph.D, Director of Vanderbilt Vision Research Center, says that while binge watching may cause discomfort or eye strain for adults, for children, it’s more of what they are not doing while binge watching that might be more harmful. Dr. Calkins says, “even for adolescents, proper wiring of the brain to support normal integration of the senses (vision, hearing etc) with the motor system (especially fine motor skills), requires on-task daily training.” He says that the daily training usually takes place through games, play-time, or sports.
3. It may be harder to fall asleep
According to Dr. Josna Adusumilli, MD, sleep specialist/doctor at Mass General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, the amount of sleep that you are losing when you are up at all hours of the night can impact your body in a negative way. For people that watch TV at night, it will be harder to fall asleep because of the blue light from electronic devices. Because certain people are night owls and are always up late, they have an internal sleep clock that let’s them go to bed later and wakeup earlier. But if you are unable to fall asleep, your whole schedule is off and that will impact your energy and mood for the next day. As well people who sleep less than six hours per night (or more than nine) were significantly more likely to have heart disease or diabetes, have suffered a stroke, or be obese, even after researchers adjusted the results for other known risk factors.