For many individuals, particularly Malaysians, binge-watching has become one of the most popular hobbies. According to a Netflix study conducted in 2018, Malaysians rank among the highest number of Netflix mobile downloaders worldwide. The study also found that 59% of Malaysians enjoy snacking while binge-watching shows.
While binge-watching can be entertaining, regular indulgence in this activity can disrupt your sleep. This article dives into the health hazards of binge-watching late at night and offers advice on how to maintain good health while enjoying your favourite shows.
Binge-Watching: What Does It Do To Your Health?
Staying up late to binge-watch your favourite drama might feel good to speed through the emotional rollercoaster of the main character at one go, but your eyes may become extremely dry and uncomfortable from staying up all night.
Additionally, binge-watching can pose other health risks such as:
If you are staying up late to binge-watch, there is a good chance that you will be snacking as well. According to a study, over 50% of Malaysian binge-watchers enjoy snacking while watching their favourite shows. Eating during the time you should be sleeping is an unhealthy habit that can lead to weight gain and obesity.
Sleep deprivation can lead to a variety of skin-related issues, including the development of eye bags and dark circles. Numerous studies have shown that sleep plays a vital role in the immune system, which affects collagen production. Too little sleep has been found to compromise the integrity of the skin’s barrier function and mucous membranes, making it more susceptible to damage. Therefore, a lack of sleep can impair the overall health and appearance of your skin.
Sleep deprivation has been linked to heart health problems. During sleep, blood pressure naturally decreases. As a result, individuals who experience sleep deprivation are at a higher risk of developing hypertension, which is a risk factor for heart-related illnesses.
Furthermore, research has revealed that poor sleep quality may cause atherosclerosis, a heart condition characterised by the accumulation of plaque in the arteries that can obstruct blood flow and potentially lead to fatality.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views excessive binge-watching as a potential cause of yin depletion and an excess of yang. In TCM, yang represents the warm or hot aspect of qi. An overabundance of yang in the body leads to increased heatiness, a condition that can result in symptoms such as dryness, extreme thirst or bitterness in the mouth, an irritated throat and ulcers. Therefore, from a TCM perspective, too much binge-watching can potentially disrupt the balance of yin and yang in the body, leading to various health problems.
Reducing the Negative Impacts If You Do Binge-Watching
If you enjoy binge-watching but want to maintain a good health, there are some things you can do, such as:
You Are What You Eat: Consume Healthy Food!
Rather than reaching for sweet drinks and unhealthy snacks like cup noodles, it’s best to opt for healthier options when you’re binge-watching. For beverages, you can try herbal teas like American ginseng tea, which can replenish the yin that you might lose while staying up late and boost your mind and immune system without causing a caffeine crash.
Other teas like chrysanthemum and peppermint (菊花薄荷茶) can help clear the heat in the body and mind. You can easily prepare this tea by adding four to five pieces of chrysanthemum flowers and five to ten peppermint leaves in a cup of hot water, covering it for five to ten minutes, and then it’s ready to drink. By choosing healthier alternatives to sugary drinks and snacks, you can avoid unnecessary calories.
If you have the urge to munch on something while binge-watching, it’s better to stay away from deep-fried, oily, and salty snacks. Choosing fresh fruits instead can be a healthier option.
Sleep Before Midnight
According to TCM, it is believed that we should be awake and asleep according to our meridian clock for optimal health. The recommended bedtime is considered to be 11pm, as staying up past this time can hinder the regeneration of Liver yin and blood.
How to stop binge-watching? Well, setting a curfew for yourself is a great first step! It can help you to prioritise your sleep and improve your overall health.
Acupressure is a self-administered technique that can be performed easily without taking your eyes off the screen. You can relieve tension by massaging these six acupoints that are easily reachable:
- Feng chi (GB20, 风池): At the depression between two major back muscles.
- San yin jiao (SP6, 三阴交): This point is located four-finger widths above the inner ankle.
- Zu san li (ST36, 足三里): Four-finger widths below the knee and one-finger width outside the shin bone.
- Tai yang (EX-HN5, 太阳): At the temples.
- Tai chong (LV3, 太沖): Two-finger widths above the spot where the big toe meets the second toe.
- Bai hui (DU20, 百会): On the intersection between the midline of the head and the line joining the apex of the ears.
Even as the pandemic wave subsides, the phenomenon of binge-watching is definitely going to stay with us. Fortunately, you don’t have to sacrifice your health for the sake of binge-watching. It is essential to recognise when it’s time for bed and be disciplined about it.
Malay Mail. 2018. Netflix survey shows more Malaysians don’t mind binge-watching in public [ [Accessed 26 May 2022]
Pubmed. 2021. Binge Watching during COVID-19: Associations with Stress and Body Weight [Accessed 26 May 2022]
Pubmed. 2010. Can poor sleep affect skin integrity? [Accessed 26 May 2022]