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Can Binge-Watching Netflix Make You Age Prematurely?

Posted by Sharon Gnatt Epel on

We all have our guilty pleasures…things that we kind-of-already-know are not in our best interest and do anyway. But did you know that one of these habits can cause premature aging? Staying up late to binge-watch Netflix may not be as innocuous as you might think. By the way, feel free to substitute any of the prime entertainment channels you watch instead of Netflix. I am a huge fan and am not singling it out.

So, what’s the big deal, you might ask? After all, you’re finally chilling after a hectic day and this is your favorite way to relax. It’s my favorite, too...

I was horrified to learn that binge watching anything may be worse for you than you think. Sitting for long stretches of time increases the risk of many health issues, including obesity, diabetes, back pain, depression and anxiety. There is even a new mental health condition known as post binge-watch depression. It sets in when you reach the end of a series you have been glued to and wish it wasn’t over.

If you are sacrificing sleep in favor of watching your favorite programs, you are robbing your body of critical recovery time, which is necessary for body maintenance. We all know that sleep deprivation causes a variety of physical and mental issues that can eventually lead to a total breakdown, not to mention low energy, reduced brain function, and a higher risk of having physical accidents of all kinds. Any parent of a newborn can confirm this truth in an instant. But did you know that sleep deprivation has been connected to increased insulin resistance which is a major cause of acne? Apparently lack of sleep increases cortisol production (which occurs when you are under stress), and that in turn causes your skin to produce more sebum (a waxy natural oil secreted by your skin's sebaceous glands that keeps your skin and hair from drying out). Too much sebum can result in acne.

Then there’s the matter of your vision. Sacrificing rest in lieu of watching TV for extended periods of time can cause eye spasms, involuntary eye twitching and blurred vision. Over time, sleep deprivation causes eye strain which can actually make blood vessels pop. The clever people at Visine recognize that binge-watching puts a strain on your eyes that can contribute to itchy, dry eyes and redness and have developed a very clever campaign that encourages people to use Visine so that they can continue watching their favorite programs uninterrupted.

Being sedentary does no favors for your appearance, either. There’s a reason the phrase “beauty sleep” was coined. You need to sleep in order to function optimally. Sleep signals the body to make repairs that cannot take place while you are up and about during the day. Some of these functions include the formation of collagen, which makes your skin less likely to wrinkle and sag. According to WebMD, getting only 5 hours of rest a night can lead to twice as many fine lines as sleeping 7 hours would, plus a decrease in blood flow that can cause your skin to look dull and dry. It can also result in more dark circles and puffy eyes.

Too much screen time for anyone is not good – not just for you or your children who may be spending hours every day playing video games or being glued to the television. It’s an excellent idea to limit viewing time for everyone, and temper it with a healthy dose of physical activity and adequate rest. Think of it as a prescription for what I call “Timeless Beauty”.

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