With access to entire reality and scripted series alike readily available at our fingertips, binge-watching TV shows is the new norm, and, depending on your interpretation of ‘Netflix and chill,’ streaming services and pop culture have made it all too accepted — and expected — by our society. Good shows are great, but watching too much TV doesn’t come without its pitfalls. Sure, plopping on the couch and mindlessly channel surfing after a long, stressful day at work is nice, but don’t take it for granted and think it’s doing you no harm at all. If you’re thinking you might be an offender of too much television time, you might want to take into consideration what this bad habit might be doing to your body. For starters, sitting so long means you can easily find your physical activity lacking, which increases your chances of gaining weight. Here are four other ways your health may be at risk if you’re binge-watching too much TV.
1. You could have bulging discs
Dr. Matt Tanneberg, sports chiropractor and certified strength and conditioning specialist in Phoenix, told The Cheat Sheet that the biggest risk he sees involved with watching TV is found with the prolonged sitting that’s associated with it. Because many people take the position of sitting and slouching on a couch, disc bulges and herniations could be lurking. “Your discs in your spine do not have a blood supply,” Tanneberg said. “The only time they get blood and fluids is when the vertebrae above and below compress down on the disc. This compression happens when you are active, walking around, running, etc. If you sit all day, your discs do not get fluid and will degenerate faster than normal.”
2. Your sleep is negatively affected
Watching excessive TV, which often occurs at night for many adults, can often directly impact the amount of quality sleep a person gets each night. According to Terry Cralle, RN, MS, certified clinical sleep educator, certified professional in healthcare quality, and spokesperson for The Better Sleep Council, has worked with people who become engrossed in a show and stay up late just so they don’t miss an episode. Cralle said it’s just not worth it, as this habit is greatly affecting their overall health. “Sleep deprivation negatively impacts physical and psychological health and cognition,” Cralle said. “That late night show is simply not worth the negative effects that will be experienced the following day. Of course, if the sleep deprivation becomes chronic, there are serious repercussions affecting health, well-being and quality of life.” Think about it, everything is affected by sleep deprivation, including, as Cralle suggests, health, relationships, performance, productivity, mood, outlook, resilience, creativity, job satisfaction, safety, and more.
3. Poor posture
If you’re anything like most other people, you prefer the couch to a stiff-back chair when catching your favorite shows or flicks at home. And it goes without saying that you’re probably not too concerned with sitting up straight while you’re lounging, either. “Another common risk factor associated with sitting is ‘anterior head carriage’,” Tanneberg said. “This is when you are slumped forward instead of having your head directly over your shoulders. This ‘anterior head carriage’ will cause headaches, neck, upper back and shoulder pain, as well.”
4. It affects your eyes
There’s a reason limited ‘screen time’ is a rule enforced in many households these days, with so many devices readily available at our fingertips. According to Dr. Robert S. Rosenberg, board certified sleep medicine physician and author of The Doctor’s Guide to Sleep Solutions for Stress & Anxiety, “Within our eyes there are cells known as rods and cones, which are necessary for normal vision. Our eyes also contain retinal ganglion cells that store melanopsin. Melanopsin is particularly sensitive to blue light, a band of light in the narrow 400- to 480-nanometer range. When blue light hits the retina, a signal is sent to the hypothalamus and melatonin production is turned off and delayed by several hours. This results in inability to fall asleep and causes difficulty when waking up, as melatonin levels are inappropriately elevated in the morning.”