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This Is Why You Shouldn’t Binge-Watch Your Favorite TV Shows

“One more won’t hurt,” you think to yourself, as episode three of Stranger Things reaches its conclusion, and Netflix begins counting down to number four. Cut to five hours later and you’re lying in the same position watching the TV, it’s midnight, and you have work in the morning. But once you’ve dragged your exhausted self to bed, you just can’t fall asleep.

If that sounds like a familiar situation, then you’re not alone. In fact, recent research has shown that there is a link between binge-watching TV shows and insomnia.

According to a new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, more than 80% of young adults identify themselves as binge-watchers, with 20.2% of them binge-watching at least a few times a week. Those who identified as binge-watchers were 98% more likely to have a poor quality of sleep than those who did not identify as binge-watchers.

For the study, the authors surveyed more than 420 people between the ages of 18 and 25, with an average age of 22 years old. They were assessed on their TV habits as well as their sleep quality, fatigue, insomnia and pre-sleep alertness. They defined binge-viewing as “watching multiple consecutive episodes of the same television show in one sitting on a screen, be it a television, laptop, computer or tablet computer screen.”

“We found that the more often young people binge-watch, the higher their cognitive pre-sleep arousal,” said the study’s lead author Liese Exelmans, a doctoral candidate at the University of Leuven in Belgium, in a statement. “That, in turn, negatively affected sleep quality, fatigue and insomnia.”

“Bingeable shows often have a complex narrative structure that makes viewers become completely immersed into the story,” added co-author Jan Van den Bulck, a professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Michigan. “This intense engagement with television content could require a longer period to ‘cool down’ before going to sleep, thus affecting sleep overall.”