We get it. Sometimes, you’d rather snuggle up in bed and binge-watch The Office than hang out with friends or even get some much-needed sleep. We’ve all had nights when we chose to burn our barely open eyes on laptop screens and wake up wishing we’d gotten some Z’s. Trust me, nothing’s worse than having a pair of bloodshot eyes stare in the mirror back at you before your 9:15.
Denial is the first stage of recovery, but don’t lie to yourself anymore. If you’ve lost the power to shut your laptop and find yourself getting sucked into “Next Episode” after “Next Episode”—fear not, these tips will help you beat your addiction before it’s too late.
Set a limit
Plan ahead. Based on your schedule, set a specific amount of time to indulge on your favorite shows. Watching five hours of Netflix on a Tuesday night before an exam probably isn’t the best idea. If you know you have a lot of homework or have to wake up early, cut yourself off after one or two episodes. To make it easier, set an alarm on your phone after one hour, and put your phone on the other side of the room. That will force you to get up and turn it off. Be strong. You can do this.
Adjust your account settings
Don’t let the bottom right corner of your laptop screen dictate your pace. To change your settings click on “Your Account,” then “Playback Settings.” Uncheck the box marked “Play next episode automatically” and you are one step closer to ditching the addiction. Although you still have the power to manually click on “Next Episode,” your temptation should be lessened without the 15-second countdown. Change is hard, but come on, the excuse that you can’t possibly stop watching if another episode starts is getting real old.
Don’t take your laptop to bed
It’s easy to spend the wee hours of the night binge-watching, but if you’re looking for your eight hours, put your laptop in your backpack. Tammy Jechura, associate professor of psychology at Albion College, said using electronics before bed can make it tough to get the necessary shut eye. The light exposure from the screen suppresses the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Though many believe that watching TV can aid sleep, this is a popular misconception. Jechura said, “Although reading or watching TV can help with relaxation, which can aid sleep, if what you’re watching or reading is interesting, it can be more difficult to fall asleep because your brain is engaged with the material.” So, if you must watch Netflix before bed, maybe choose a National Parks’ documentary over Parks and Recreation.
Download the Self-Control app
If you’re like me and lack self-control when it comes to Netflix as well as social media, download “Self-Control,” an app that blacklists websites of your choice for any period of time up to 24 hours. To get a quick assignment done, blacklist distracting websites for 30 minutes. To study for an exam, blacklist for four hours. To make sure you stay off Netflix during the night, blacklist for however many hours you want to sleep. Once you confirm a time, there is absolutely no way of getting on those websites until the time is up. Scary? Yes, but extremely helpful.
Get a life rather than a new show
Got a free Tuesday night? Don’t let your laptop be your only company. Make plans to hang out with a friend: make dinner, take a walk around campus together or just enjoy each other’s company (crazy idea, right?). Having plans ahead of time will make it less likely for you to spend your free time watching Netflix.
Burn calories, not your retinas
No more excuses. Now that spring is upon us, you don’t have to put boots on and trudge through a foot of snow to get to the gym. If you’re not much of a gym person, run or walk through the park. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself for exercising something other than your eyes. The physical activity will also help you fall asleep faster. “If you exercise during the day, it helps you to sleep better at night. The more that you sit in front of the screen, the less exercise you get,” Jechura said. Pro tip: Make sure to exercise during the day, because hitting the gym or going for a jog two or three hours before bed can actually make it harder to sleep.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
As Oscar Wilde once said, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” If watching Netflix is one of your main sources of happiness, you are one of many. No one is telling you to quit cold turkey. College is hard. Take a break, but not for too long. Remember these tips and you’ll be back to the real world in no time.