Three ways binge watching your favourite shows can impact your health

Are you spending your lockdown catching up on all the shows you’ve missed on Netflix? Find out how binge watching TV can impact your health.

With so much enforced time at home, many of us have increased our screen time during lockdown. And for most of us, a large portion of that extra screen time is spent watching TV and movies.

Thanks to an almost never-ending section of shows on TV, Amazon Prime, Netflix and Apple TV, we can easily spend an entire day glued to a screen. And right now we all need distraction and escapism – if we can’t physically leave our home then we can live vicariously through our screens.

Trethowans
Trethowans

But what impact is that having on our health? To find out, health physician Kara Jones has teamed up with television brand SoapHub to look at three ways binging on our favourite TV shows impacts our bodies.

1) Our favourite TV shows trigger the release of dopamine

When participating in an activity we enjoy, our brain releases the chemical dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter supplied by the hypothalamus, otherwise identified as the brains ‘pathway to reward’.

Dopamine plays an instrumental role in motivation and incentive. When we achieve an objective or goal the sudden feeling of euphoria is partly due to a sudden rush of dopamine.

Watching your favourite TV series encourages the release of dopamine. As you feel a sense of euphoria, dopamine essentially says to the brain ‘you are enjoying this…keep it up!’ This can cause you to crave watching your favourite TV show as your brain craves the release of dopamine. 

There is some truth to the expression, ‘I am addicted to that show’. Dopamine isn’t solely accountable for addiction however, as it’s released via the reward pathways of the brain, it plays an instrumental role in why we do what we do and take the actions we take. It is wise to be mindful of this when embarking on a new series or settling down to watch a new show. 

2) Upbeat TV shows help boost our serotonin levels

Watching television that you enjoy for a significant amount of time can serve as a great escapism. And this is partly due to the release of serotonin.

When our chosen TV shows are positive and upbeat, the body releases serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical made from the amino acid tryptophan. Serotonin reduces depression and works to ease symptoms of anxiety.

This explains why our mood can lift after watching our favourite TV shows, especially if we watch them with other people, as this suppresses the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. 

If you have experienced a stressful day, television can serve as an escapism. Just ensure that you do not continue to watch it late into the night as this can impact sleep.

3) Watching TV late at night can impact our sleep

Falling asleep in front of the TV is common practice for many people. In fact, many feel that they find it easier to fall asleep whilst watching a show that they have seen multiple times before.

Having your television on at a low volume setting can work to the same principle as falling asleep while listening to white noise. However, it is crucial that you are mindful of the impact blue light emittance can have on sleep.

Blue light exposure can affect the quality of your sleep. Melatonin is a hormone that aids in regulating your sleep cycle. The emittance of blue light supresses the production of melatonin meaning that it may take you longer to fall asleep.

The flicking of the screens can also interrupt the lighter stages of sleep seeing that your body misses out on the vital restorative stages of sleep. 

If you have a television in your bedroom, then try to implement a strict turn off time each night. This will ensure that you protect yourself from blue light emittance and noise pollution. 

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM