Deprivation Binge

Why ‘Squid Game’ Is Giving You Nightmares

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Childhood games with violent twists, an army of shadowy masked men wielding guns, and everyday people on the brink of financial ruin fighting for their lives — the premise of the popular Netflix series Squid Game is the stuff of nightmares.

If you’re one of the millions of people who binge-watched the dystopian hit show (Netflix reported on Twitter in mid-October that 111 million viewers had tuned in), you know what we’re talking about. And psychologists and sleep doctors who study dreaming aren’t surprised if the show is seeping into your non-waking hours.

When you watch something that resonates with you (whether it’s because it’s deeply moving or deeply disturbing), it’s going to stick with you, particularly if you watched a lot of the show in a short amount of time — and particularly if you’ve done so just before bed, says Michael Grandner, PhD, an associate professor and director of the sleep and health research program at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

“You’re immersed in this show, and you’ve invested in the characters. It’s an emotional roller coaster, and your mind needs to process it all,” he says.

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