Phones, tablets and laptops. Even TVs, for the traditional ones amongst us. Our digital devices are making lockdown a lot more bearable, from hosting online fitness classes to connecting us with loved ones.
While things would certainly be a lot trickier without them, too much screen time can actually be detrimental to our health, causing what I call a quadruple whammy of damage to wellbeing.
In this post, we delve into this quartet of medical maladies, as well as looking at the simple antidote for each.
With calls, alerts and emails flooding in, our digital devices are always trying to get our attention. The constant need to respond can over-stimulate your nervous systems, leading to hypervigilance – a perpetual state of being switched on and alert, which can make you feel both anxious and exhausted. 1 2
Antidote: if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your devices, turn them off or put them on flight mode when not in use. You can also switch notifications off.
When we use devices, particularly phones, we often hang our heads forward. Maintaining this poor posture for too long can cause ‘Text Neck’. Symptoms include neck and shoulder pain, as well as repetitive strain injuries and headaches. 3
Antidote: to avoid dreaded text neck, be sure to keep devices at around eye level, this will stop you from having to hang your head when using them. It’s also a good idea to take a 10-minute break for every hour you’re in front of a screen.
Blue Light Blues
To prepare us for sleep, our bodies release a hormone called melatonin. However, the blue light emitted from devices, including phones, digital alarm clocks and TVs, supresses the production of this hormone. This can really meddle with your natural sleep cycles and by extension, your overall health. 4 5
Antidote: if you find you’re struggling to sleep at night, it’s important to cut out screens altogether at least one hour before bed. To ensure you’re not tempted to break your digital downtime, remove devices from your bedroom.
Check out our previous post for more sleep tips.
Manmade EMF Overload
Manmade Electromagnetic Fields, commonly called EMFs, are invisible fields of energy emitted by electronic devices. In small doses, they’re generally not considered a health concern, but there is growing proof that we should be very cautious about our exposure to them. Manmade EMF overload has the potential to negatively affect mood, concentration and memory, as well as being linked to increased rates in cancer. 6
Antidote: to reduce your exposure to manmade EMFs, keep devices at least one foot from your body whenever you’re not using them.
Want to Find Out More about Living in Harmony with Your Body?
Sources and References:
- https://www.resilience.org/stories/2018-03-14/douglas-rushkoff-weve-disabled-the-cognitive-and-collaborative-skills-needed-to-address-climate-change/ Feb 2019
- Crone, E. A., & Konijn, E. (2018). Media use and brain development during adolescence. Nature Communications, 9(1), 1-10.
- Neupane, S., Ifthikar Ali, U. T., Mathew, A., (2017) Text Neck Syndrome – Systematic Review, Imperial Journal of Interdisciplinary Research (IJIR) Vol-3, Issue-7, 2017
- Shechter A, Kim EW, St-Onge MP, Westwood AJ. Blocking nocturnal blue light for insomnia: A randomized controlled trial. J Psychiatr Res. 2018;96:196–202. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2017.10.015
- Marti, A. R., Meerlo, P., Grønli, J., Hasselt, S. J., Mrdalj, J., Pallesen, S., . . . Skrede, S. (2016). Shift in food intake and changes in metabolic regulation and gene expression during simulated night-shift work: A rat model. Nutrients, 8(11), 712.
- https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/electromagnetic-fields-and-public-health-mobile-phones March 2019