Make marathon TV sessions healthy
Allowing yourself another blissful boxset hour is what we pay our subscriptions for. But some of us are so dedicated to the next episode of sword-wielding, meth-making viewing that we’re sacrificing sleep to watch it. An Ofcom report this week revealed that 50% of us have sacrificed sleep to watch TV, and the same number have had to make concerted efforts to reduce screen time.
If you’re the type that tanks sleep to keep Tony Soprano company, you need our handy tips to close the lid on that box...
1. Breaking Bad Habits
If hitting ‘play next’ feels as addictive as Walt’s products, you’re not alone. Compulsive viewing lights up the same area of your brain as drugs and, over time, is linked to depression and poor impulse control in other areas of life, reports Texas University. Psychologist Dr Aric Sigman advises watching with friends and agreeing a time limit. It’ll stop your brain reverting to screensaver mode tomorrow.
(Related: the 25 best drugs for men)
2. You're peaky blinded
A marathon TV session will exhaust your tired eyes. Screen time causes your blink rate to drop dramatically, which leads to dryness and even blurred vision. Reboot your eyeballs between each episode by spending 20 seconds looking at something 6m away. If you’re already suffering, don’t be aDaredevilabout it. Switch off and lie with a warm, damp flannel over your eyes.
3. Gain of Thrones
By the fourth HBO title screen (“aaaah”) your body is racking up worrying ratings. Men who watch TV for 4+ hours a day have a 125% higher risk of heart disease, a UCL study found, while slumping on the sofa immediately after eating spikes blood sugar, triggering fat gain. A 40min post-meal walk will nullify this effect, as will adding some turmeric and chilli to your TV dinner.
(Related: speaking of, we've got the ultimate guide to chilli peppers)
4. True Corrective
It’s not tough to detect the main victim of inertia. Studies by The United Chiropractic Association linked a hunched sitting posture to constricted breathing and heart disease. As your episode loads, hit the floor for a Superman stretch: face-down, tense your glutes and lift your chest, legs and arms with thumbs pointing up. Do 3 reps of 10sec, and limit tension to the dramatic kind..
5. Waking Dead
After-dark sessions increase blood pressure and infect your sleep cycle, so you’ll feel restless even on nights when you don’t indulge. Among the host of health issues is a 25% drop in sperm count, reports the Uni of Southern Denmark. Your antidote: pick up a book before lights out. It reduces sleep-disrupting BP spikes, says Dr Sigman. You’ll be less of a zombie in the morning.
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