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Better Sleep Week: Binge-watch responsibly for a better night’s sleep

The CBS 58 Morning News is dedicating an entire week to stories designed to help you sleep better.

Tuesday we tackle how binge-watching impacts sleep. In fact, binge-watching has become such a trend, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine is now urging people who use streaming services like Netflix to view shows “responsibly.”

Here’s the advice:

  • Set an episode limit before watching.
  • Take a break between episodes.
  • Download episodes on your smartphone to control how many episodes you watch at once.
  • Schedule time on weekends to watch.
  • Turn off shows at least 30 minutes before bedtime.

Dr. B. Tucker Woodson, a sleep expert with Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, says failing to binge-watch responsibly can create three main problems.

“It creates insufficient sleep so you're not getting enough sleep so you're tired. It creates a degree of hyper-arousal so people have a problem falling asleep, and depending on the content, it can create behavioral disruption of sleep even later in the night,” Woodson explained.

Hyper-arousal is a state in which your brain can’t turn off. Binge-watching turns on your brain.

“It’s a new field. I think we’re learning how to deal with it. It’s obviously a reality. People are binge-watching and we have to learn to adjust and adopt for it,” Woodson said.


He acknowledges some binge-watching is fine, if it’s part of a healthy lifestyle, but the problem comes in when people get out of control. Some people don’t even realize how tired they are the next day.

"I've literally had people fall asleep in front of me and deny they're tired. So you kind of get used to a low level of functioning. Sleep deprivation can be very insidious," Woodson said.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends adults sleep at least seven hours a night.

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