World Brain Day Sleep Deprivation Netflix YouTube Binge Measures Smartphone Addiction How to Reduce the Effects of Screen Time Digital Disconnect

World Brain Day Sleep Deprivation Netflix YouTube Binge Measures Smartphone Addiction How to Reduce the Effects of Screen Time Digital Disconnect

“Netflix and relax” — the viral phrase that became a calling card for consensual copulations had a simple enough origin. In January 2009, a user who went by the name NoFaceNina (@nofacenina) tweeted, “I’m about to hop on Netflix and chill for the rest of the night.” This is widely believed to be the first recorded instance of the phrase, and interestingly, the tweet arrived just two years after Netflix started streaming movies online.

Now, let’s focus on the last part of the tweet – “chill out for the rest of the night”. While that sounds great, especially after a hard day at work, the concern that arises is: if you relax at night, when will you go to sleep?

If Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings is to be believed, sleep is the streaming giant’s biggest enemy. On a Netflix 2017 earnings call, Hastings said rivals like Prime Video or HBO aren’t really big concerns.

“They are doing great programming and will continue to do so, but I’m not sure it will affect us too much. Because the market is so vast. You know, come to think of it, when you watch a Netflix show and you get hooked, you stay up late into the night. You really — we’re competing with sleep, on the sidelines. And so, it’s a very large time pool,” he said.

According to a 2020 study published by SleepStandards, nearly 75% of Netflix users don’t have enough time to cover up to seven hours of sleep daily. The study further found that 46% of respondents admitted that they were having sleep problems after consuming Netflix for hours.

So, it seems that Netflix is ​​not so easy when it comes to sleep.

And it’s not just Netflix to blame. A 2022 study by Flinders University, based in Adelaide, Australia, found that YouTube may be more disruptive to sleep among teen users than traditional TV or even Netflix. The study cited that 30 minutes spent on the app leads to an overall 13-minute delay in falling asleep. What’s more, every 15 minutes spent watching it reduces the chance of getting enough sleep by 24%, according to the study.

A 2019 study by the Bengaluru-based National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience (NIMHANS) found that overt smartphone use during bedtime not only affects sleep quality, but also intensifies instances of fatigue and insomnia.

Why do we need to sleep?

If you haven’t dozed off while reading this, you might be wondering why this author is talking about how sleep is being affected by streamers and smartphone use.

Well let me explain. The 22nd of July is celebrated as World Brain Day. Established by the World Federation of Neurology (WFN) in 2014, World Brain Day aims to raise public awareness of a different topic of neurological health each year. In 2023, the theme is health and brain impairment. The WFN believes that brain impairments can be “prevented, treated and rehabilitated” and global brain awareness can “reduce disability associated with brain disorders”.

Now, we all know that among many other things, routine sleep is one of the biggest requirements for maintaining a healthy brain. After all, we spend almost a quarter or even a third of our human lives sleeping. So there must be a good reason for that, right?

According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, a healthy amount of sleep is necessary for something called “brain plasticity,” which is the brain’s ability to adapt to input. “If we sleep too little, we become unable to process what we learn during the day and have more trouble remembering in the future,” says the university’s official post.

Also, our brain is better able to remove waste from its cells when we are sleeping. If we remain awake, this process becomes noticeably less efficient.

So how to relax (read: sleep) No Netflix?

The best solution – and probably the only logical one – is to reduce screen time when you’re in bed.

Smartphones, or any digital screens, emit light in the blue wavelength, which keeps the brain alert and active, just like the light of the morning sky. According to a study conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School, reading an e-book resulted in a prolonged onset of sleep by an average of 10 minutes compared to reading a traditional paper book.

Additionally, the onset of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep, was found to be delayed by approximately 1.5 hours when reading an e-book. Additionally, reading e-books was associated with a decrease in melatonin release by an average of 55%. This reduced the amount of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep by approximately 12 minutes and also affected morning alertness.

So maybe leave some episodes for the next day. Finish those extra game levels tomorrow. Netflix and relaxation sound great — but not at the expense of neurological well-being.

digital disconnect it is a ABP live-exclusive column where we explore the many admirable advancements the tech world is seeing each day and how they lead to a certain disconnect between users. Is the modern world an easier place to live thanks to technology? Definitely. Does that mean we don’t want things to go back to the old days? Well, look for our next column to find out.

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