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Break the binge-watching cycle

A hand holding a TV remote.

Swim against the stream.

Dec. 10, 2019—Wait, it can't end there!

Anyone who's ever encountered a cliffhanger at the end of an episode knows all too well the temptation to watch "just one more." Streaming services are set up to feed that appetite. But that can lead to some late nights and groggy mornings.

In fact, a whopping 88% of U.S. adults say they've lost sleep because of binge-watching, according to a 2019 survey from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). And that number jumps to 95% for adults ages 18 to 44.

But finding out what happens next may come at a cost. When you don't get the seven to eight hours of sleep most adults need every night, your mood, your ability to concentrate at work, school or home, and even your ability to drive safely may all suffer. Over time, missed shut-eye raises your risk of serious health problems too, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression.

A healthy balance

To break the cycle, you don't have to give up your favorite shows. With some small changes, it's possible to stream without skimping on sleep. Here are four workarounds the AASM suggests:

  • Set an episode limit each night before you start watching—and stick to it.
  • Take a break between each episode to avoid being sucked in by the "auto-play" loop.
  • Download episodes on your smartphone to control how many you watch in a row.
  • Catch up on viewing on weekends instead of staying up late during the week.

Screen smarts

Even if you limit streaming, late-night exposure to screens can make it harder to nod off at night. So the AASM advises turning off all screens at least a half hour before tucking in. Check out this infographic for more sleep-friendly screen tips.

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