I have never been a big TV watcher. For as far back as I can remember, I could only take so much. I would have periods of binging or try out the most popular show, but the distraction never lasted long because ultimately, it didn’t make me feel good.
Since the pandemic quarantine, however, things have changed.
We have been watching TV nearly every night. With the scope, variety, and quality of shows offered by Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and HBO at our fingertips, there is never a shortage of options. That, coupled with the need to escape from the world right now, makes the temptation hard to resist. The increase of stress, uncertainty, change, and loss in our current lives leaves us seeking relief, and with those distractions involving socialization unavailable, what’s left?
For most of us, the ritual of evening TV watching does the trick. It pulls us away from our thoughts about work, family, finances, the future, and sucks us into a world of make believe. It entertains us. It numbs us.
In the long run, however, it may be making things worse.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, watching TV before bed can have a negative effect on the quality of your sleep. Not only do you tend to stay up later to find out what happens next but the increase in programming with high levels of violence, gore, or suspense “may leave you feeling anxious and contribute to tossing and turning.” On top of that, an even bigger problem is the light emitted from the screen which disrupts your body’s natural clock and inhibits its production of melatonin, throwing off your REM sleep and resulting in morning drowsiness.
Binge watching (even during the day) can cause problems as well. According to Jenna Birch in an article in the Washington Post, How Binge Watching is Hazardous to Your Health (June 3, 2019), “binge-watching can affect your cardiovascular system, your vision, your socialization and your sleep patterns which can lead to other problems.”
Last night, we decided to take a break.
Instead of planning our night around a new Netflix show, we spent some time chatting while cooking a special dinner. We played our guitars, went for a walk, and got into bed early with a good book. My eyes were closed before 10 and I had the best sleep I’ve had in days.
We are not planning to cut out TV altogether, but we do see the benefits of cutting back. With the high levels of gore, violence, and suspense in the real world right now, we don’t see a need to add more. Our vow is to look for activities that are calming, healing, and relationship building.
It’s an idea worth considering.