Wellbeing

Streaming Services Are Legit Trying To Steal Your Sleep

I became a Netflix subscriber for the first time about a week ago, and my God has it changed my life.

I used to pride myself on avoiding screen time and now I’m finding myself locked into binge sessions while the sun blazes and the hours soar, participating much more frequently in conversations surrounding Gilmore Girls, House of Cards, Orange Is The New Black and other shows that previously resided way outside of my content bubble.

It’s going to be a milestone week for the US media conglomerate, with the streaming giant expected to reach 100 million international subscribers by the weekend, after adding another 4.95 million members in Q1 2017 alone.

It is not without competition, however, with the Amazons and HBOs and Stans throwing down serious coin for exclusive content to rival Netflix’s mass of paying members.

However, CEO Reed Hastings isn’t too fazed by his natural competitors, preferring to challenge a much more global phenomenon: sleep.

In Netflix’s Q1 Earnings broadcast interview, Hastings was queried of his competition, and had an unusual competitor in mind.

“The market is just so vast,” Hastings said. “You know, think about it, when you watch a show from Netflix and you get addicted to it, you stay up late at night. We’re competing with sleep, on the margin. And so, it’s a very large pool of time.”

 

70% of Netflix users binge-watch their shows, leading to multiple consecutive hours locked in front of the screen, and Hastings is competing with your pillows for your undivided attention.

Professor Dorothy Bruck from the Sleep Health Foundation is a Professor of Psychology at Victoria University and has noted that Netflix-and-chilling in bed may be having a more detrimental effect on your sleep than you thought.

“Young people want to have their devices right by their bed because they don’t want to miss out on anything,” Professor Bruck told The Cusp. “These things are often very stimulating and very addictive and people find it hard to shift off from it.”

These things are often very stimulating and very addictive and people find it hard to shift off from it

“I would strongly suggest that those electronic devices be kept in the kitchen and not put in the bedroom and people can get up and look at their phone in the morning over breakfast.”

100 million hours a day are streamed on Netflix, and breaking that down into individual users, an average of 1 hour and 33 minutes per person per day is spent digesting Adam Sandler flicks of ranging quality and crappy 90’s sitcoms.

 

And Netflix isn’t the only one, with the Facebook media group including Messenger and Instagram accounting for an average of 50 minutes per person per day scrolling through their pages.

Snapchat is another service snavelling up your attention, with users draining between 25 and 30 minutes per day on the app.

Take that two and a half-ish hours, add on an 8 hour work day, factor in 10ish hours of sunlight and top it up with your social life and you’re not being left with a whole lot of playing room to factor in your nightly snuggles.

The Sleep Health Foundation recommends an average of 7-9 hours of sleep for young adults per night, and the increased use of social media and technology is really screwing with your natural sleeping patterns.

the increased use of social media and technology is really screwing with your natural sleeping patterns

“I think the main thing is that people think they can just turn sleep on and off. It doesn’t work like that, it actually likes routine,” Professor Bruck continued.

“A lot of people have different sleep patterns during the week compared to on the weekend. Your sleep gets distracted by technology and life so you end up having wildly different bed times and wake times and that is very unhealthy for your sleep.”

“Often young people’s body clocks are set quite late, they go to bed quite late and still have to get up early for work.”

“It’s like being a shift worker, the way you’re shifting your body clock so strongly.”

Studies show that bright screens can greatly affect your tiredness by increasing alertness, with the shining blue light form your devices suppressing the hormone melatonin, which aids in regulating sleep and tiredness.

There are services available like f.lux where your screen brightness is altered based on the time of day, decreasing the amount of blue light in the screen and replacing them with an orange hue, thereby having a smaller effect on melatonin levels.

The type of stimulation also makes a significant impact, with passive devices such as Netflix having a smaller impact than interactive services, such as messaging or playing video games.

Experts want us to leave our bedrooms purely for sleep, and to avoid streaming content in bed, but with our yearning for modern connectivity and how God-damn comfortable it is, most of us sleep with our devices an arms reach from the pillow.

Experts want us to leave our bedrooms purely for sleep

“There should be a gap of about an hour before lights out for no screens because if you don’t have enough of the melatonin in your system your sleep is going to be a bit lighter and more fragmented,” Professor Bruck said. “There is research that suggest it is going to have a detrimental effect.”

And if you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep, there is help out there, with the Sleep Health Foundation’s Fact Sheets covering a range of topics to keep you happy between the sheets.

Professor Bruck’s ultimate tip?

“I think it’s very important to work out how much sleep you need. If you’re an eight-hour person then work back from the time you need to get up and try and stick with it, seven days a week, as much as you can.”

“Sleep loves routine.”


Jackson Barron is a Sydney based freelance writer, who is probably in the ocean while you are reading this sentence. His scribbles have been published online at BeachGrit and at Junkee and he is stoked you made it all the way to the bottom of this page.