Let’s set the scene: you’ve had a long day/week/decade and desperately need to unwind. You settle comfortably onto your couch, switch on your TV, and pull up Netflix on your Roku. Congratulations, you are now ready to endlessly binge your new favorite show and recover from your fatigue.
But wait, there’s more: Hours later, you’re in the exact same position after having lost track of time and gone on what may or may not be a mildly (err, drastically) excessive streaming session. And while there’s no shame in letting yourself get a little carried away – everyone loves a little binge-watching session from time to time – there could be some health reasons to change up your relaxation routine.
It’s been statistically proven that regularly watching a few too many episodes of your favorite shows at once fosters unhealthy eating habits, both due to mindless snacking and a decrease in nutritional awareness (thanks, fast food commercials!). Another study has shown that up to 98 percent of survey respondents who claim that they regularly “binge” TV shows have less-than-ideal sleeping patterns, including getting fewer hours of sleep overall. And the most recent discovery, from a decades-long observational study out of Australia, is that people who watched TV between two to four hours a day were 54 percent more likely to have an inflammatory-disease-related death, like those from diabetes or Alzheimer’s. The more hours per day that people in the study spent watching TV, the more likely they were to die of inflammatory-related causes (about 12 percent more likely per hour, to be exact).
Of course, the link between the simple act of watching TV and inflammatory diseases may not necessarily be a strong one, and the connection likely has more to do with the sedentary lifestyle that generally accompanies binge-watching your favorite shows. But even if watching TV isn’t the exact thing that’s throwing your health off, per se, it’s definitely close enough to the problem to have us rethinking our ways — and to convince us that we can wait until tomorrow to watch that next episode.