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Netflix's Number One Competitor

Sleep - and how optimizing your streaming habits can benefit you.

Since the stay-at-home order of 2020, we’ve been watching more and more tv. In fact, streaming services like Netflix and HBO are reporting record high subscriptions and a 65% increase in bingeing. It’s easy to see why quarantining has increased our viewing time. Unfortunately, it appears that the quality of our sleep is worse than ever!

Many of us use the television to wind down after a long day. And while we think it’s harmless, it’s in fact, keeping us from feeling well-rested in the morning. This isn’t an accident. It’s actually by design - which is why Netflix openly admits that sleep is their number one competitor. Not only do they declare sleep their competitor, but they have also declared victory over sleep - siting a 2019 survey by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) that found a remarkable 88% of respondents reported having lost sleep because they stayed up “past their bedtime” to watch multiple episodes of a TV show or streaming video series. For 18-44-year-olds, that number jumped to 95%.

The effects of lack of sleep tend to snowball quickly. Side-effects of poor sleep habits include anxiety, poor focus, a weakened immune system, lack of creativity, poor problem solving, and diminished empathy.

Where do we go from here? Do we cut and run from all streaming services in the midst of trying to stay home more for our health? Do we give in and accept that our sleep, immunity, and mood will be negatively affected by our streaming habits? Finding a healthy balance is important. Here are a few ways to do that.

  1. Opt for old favorites over a new series. This is a shout-out to the re-watchers among us. It turns out, an old favorite is less likely to arouse the brain. This allows you to nod off easier and in turn, has fewer negative effects on your sleep.

  2. Protect your bedroom. Use blackout curtains to avoid the morning sun, opt for a cooler ambient temperature (65-68 degrees), and consider earplugs or an eye mask.

  3. Create a new routine. Your wind-down routine should happen at the same time each night. It’s ok to include an episode or two of your favorite show but it should happen at the beginning of the routine, not the end. Include activities that will limit stress and promote a good night of sleep. Consider blocking blue light, dimming room light, doing yoga, reading a book, and participating in box breathing or other stress-relieving activities.

  4. Don’t trade the big screen for a smaller one. When you opt to limit streaming, it’s important to remember that your phone is just as engaging as a fast-paced thriller. We know, it’s tempting to scroll as you fall asleep but limiting all screen time in the hours before bed has been proven to benefit your sleep.

These are trying times, and it’s normal to find yourself reaching for your favorite diversion a bit more than usual. Just remember, a bit of mindfulness and moderation will go a long way and have a huge impact on your overall health.

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