The Surprising Impacts That Binge-Watching TV Has On Our Hormones And Sleep

Yep, even a Netflix session has an impact on our bodies.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the UK watches around 2 hours and 17 minutes of television every day.

And, who can blame us? There’s never been a better time for settling into a binge-watching sesh. With shows like Baby Reindeer, Heartstopper and even Love Is Blind, it’s hard to drag ourselves away from our sofas.

However, one hormone expert, Mike Kocsis at Balance My Hormones, is warning that our bingeing habits may be having a detrimental impact on our hormone health.

The impact that binge-watching TV has on our hormone health

Kocsis said: “The symptoms of feeling scared or feeling excited mirror each other. As a result, the body reacts to watching dramas and thrillers in the same way as it does when it’s in love.”

He went on to explain that the heart rate rises by 42%, blood pressure increases and blood flow to the gut decreases as the body enters ‘fight or flight mode’. This mode sees the sympathetic nervous system spark a stress response that motivates the body to prepare for a threat.

However, once the body realises that you’re not under threat and, in this instance, watching TV, the brain releases a hit of dopamine.

Kocsis explained: “Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is secreted from the brain’s hypothalamus. It’s a key part of the brain’s pathway to reward. In fact, the sudden release of dopamine is the reason that we ‘binge watch’ TV shows as its hit sparks a feeling of euphoria, like ‘runners high’.”

Of course, this is something the brain continues to crave. This is why we always find ourselves craving just one more episode. The brain will then steadily release dopamine as you continue to watch the show and become invested in the characters’ lives.

Kocsis: “This even leads to craving the TV show, like that of an addiction, when we switch channels or turn the show off altogether.”

The hormone expert also warned that lengthy amounts of TV viewing can manipulate testosterone levels.

He explained that when a person relates to a character, the body reacts to their ‘wins’ and ‘loses’ as if they are their own. For example, if a character finds success, the body’s testosterone levels rise, if they encounter failure, levels of testosterone decrease.

Even the screens themselves can be harmful

Kocsis said: “Most people are inactive as they are watching TV, focusing solely on the blue light emitting from the screen. The blue light suppresses the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, leading the brain to believe that it’s still daytime and therefore delaying sleep.”

According to the sleep experts at Time4Sleep, over 50% (50.9%) of Brits have a TV in their bedroom.

Kcosis advised: “If you experience tiredness, low mood or even anxiety after watching prolonged levels of TV, implement a TV limit each evening, ensure that you are mindful of the number of hours you watch.”