Houston Methodist neurologist warns of bad effects from binge-watching

For the first time, Americans now have more streaming services in their households than they do TVs. So, what does that mean for your health?

We're really talking about the domino-effect binge-watching can have over time. It's no secret that sitting or lying down for long periods of time is bad for you, but it also often leads to weight gain from over-eating unhealthy snacks, memory issues from staying up late and being sleep deprived. It can make you anti-social and sometimes depressed when you're isolated from other people for that long.

We spoke to a neurologist at Houston Methodist, and he tells us binge-watching can be as addictive as gambling.

"In a regular movie, there's a beginning, middle, and an ending," says neurologist Dr. Randall Wright with Houston Methodist. "In a series, that's designed for watching in a binge, if you will, that there's no resolution sometimes between episodes. It just keeps you hanging. And in our brains we like resolutions. We like to have an ending to something."

Dr. Wright says its only human nature to find yourself unable to peel away from a really good show for hours at a time – especially those with cliff-hangers at the end of each episode.

But Dr. Wright says binge-watching encourages viewers to develop bad habits over time.

"We want to see what happens next, and that becomes almost like an addiction, if you will," he says. "Like if you ever go to a slot machine and you almost win, and you want to do it again and keep on doing it."

It's not that people don't recognize that binge-watching could slowly transform them into an anti-social, chubby, sleep-deprived creatures. For many, it's one of their favorite ways to unwind after a long day.

Dr. Wright says poor nutrition and sedentary habits could eventually lead to more serious brain disorders.

He has come up with a solution called "binge 2.0".​​​​​​

"Start earlier in the evening, maybe 6 p.m. Don't do it by yourself, invite your friends. And if you're going to do it, do it where maybe you're going to have a little exercise bike or some kind of exercise where you guys can be active while you're binge-watching," he says. "And serve healthy snacks like fruits and veggies."