You come home from work and sit down to watch one episode of your new favourite show. Forty-five minutes later you tell yourself “just one more.” Suddenly it’s 2 a.m., you haven’t moved for hours and you just breezed through more than half a season. Does that sound like you? Don’t feel bad, we’ve all been there, but did you know binge watching can actually impact both your mental and physical health? No matter how much time you spend in the gym, the hours of non-stop screen time will eventually catch up with you, and can even impact your results. Here’s a list of the top four reasons why you should kick your binge-watching ways to the curb.

Lowers your quality of sleep

According to a 2017 study by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, people who identified as ‘binge viewers’ had a 98 percent higher likelihood of having poor sleep quality. There are couple key factors that contribute to this impact on sleep. One is what the study calls “cognitive pre-sleep arousal,” which refers to the way in which the deep mental engagement in a good TV show makes you more alert and less primed for a sound sleep. Blue light is another culprit for those who watch at night because it throws off the body’s biological clock by activating parts of the brain that boost attention and energy. This is particularly dangerous for people who watch on a computer or mobile device which are held much closer your eyes than a TV.

Leads to anxiety and depression

The Guardian conducted a study that found binge-watchers were more likely to report higher stress, anxiety and depression. This correlates with other studies which have shown links between feelings of loneliness and depression with binge-watching behaviour. Not surprising, as we’ve all felt shame of pressing continue when the infamous “Are you still watching?” pops up on the screen five episodes in.

Binge watching leads to binge eating… and weight gain

Snacking and screen time are a dangerous duo that’s become second nature to a lot of people. One study showed that the more hours people spent watching TV, the more they snacked on unhealthy foods. Most people reach for the quick and easy snacks like chips or candies when they’re sitting down to watch their favourite shows. After a few episodes and being heavily in engaged in what’s happening on the screen, people have a higher tendency to eat mindlessly, failing to pick up on the feeling of being full and leading to excessive overeating.

Linked to chronic disease, diabetes and premature death

We’ve long-known that prolonged periods of sedentary behaviour is bad for us, but this seems to slip our minds when we find out the new season of our favourite show was just released. Sitting for long periods of time affects our cardiovascular health and increases the risk of cancer-related deaths, particularly among women.

Diabetes is another major concern for people who spend extended periods of time sitting down and this is amplified with the tendency to overeat while watching tv. The Annals of Internal Medicine published a study by a group of Canadian researchers who found that more than half of the average individuals waking hours were spent sedentary and even those who exercised up to an hour a day had a higher risk of premature death. So, while you’re working hard in the gym to prolong your life, going home and watching hours of TV afterwards is undoing all your preventative health efforts.

If these reasons aren’t enough to convince you to end your binge-watching behaviour, use them as a guide to improve the way you watch. Avoid screens an hour before you want to go to sleep and use night lighting, watch on a TV instead of a mobile device, choose healthier snacks, drink lots of water and take breaks between episodes to stand up, stretch and walk around. Most importantly, remember that everything is better in moderation so, focus on limiting your screen time to one or two episodes at a time. Good luck, and happy healthier watching!