Addiction to Technology is a Real Problem

40% of North Americans suffer from addiction to technology whether its email, porn or games.  By the age of 7 a child will have spent 1 whole year of life on devices.  If we break down the average number of hours we are spending looking at screens it is shocking.  Sleep is suffering.

Most people can’t imagine life without their phone.  College age students check their device 82 times per day.  Besides infants, this is the age group that requires more sleep than any other.  Many report keeping their phone on throughout the night to answer texts at any hour.

The majority of adults spend 4 hours a day looking at their hand held device.  How is this impacting health not to mention relationships, productivity, satisfaction and the environment?

Destroyers of Sleep

I was talking with my son yesterday.  He’s 6 and was asking about caffeine.  There is a local company opening a cafe to serve organic yerba mate.  Part of the marketing strategy is to give away sweetened, canned drinks that are stimulating to young people at festivals.  It works.  Kids as young as my son are curious and want more.

Young people are marketed to heavily. For the first 5 years of his life my kid wasn’t on devices at all. This was supported by his preschool teachers and his uncle who works in marketing. As a single parent it wasn’t easy but I did it. He’s also never tasted coca cola but now he’s had canned yerba mate.

So we talked about what stimulating drinks do. I explained that I didn’t touch them until I was almost 30 years old. When I did I started to develop sleep issues. Asking him if he enjoys sleeping & feeling healthy made him consider what’s more important.  He’s seen me grumpy and sleep deprived many times.

Caffeine has a good side of course.  I love it in moderation.  Morning is my best time and I don’t suggest not enjoying it especially for parents.  But our kids…no way.  We can protect them and teach them to self-regulate around stimulants.

Blue Light

In the centre of our brain, right above the optic nerve, is where light registers.  Its called the suprachiasmatic nucleus.  It’s part of the hypothalamus and is responsible for controlling circadian rhythms.  Blue light at night disrupts sleep. Disrupted sleep means compromised health.  Its that simple.

Inflammation & Sleep Deprivation

All chronic disease has an inflammatory quality.  Research shows that one night of poor sleep increases inflammation.  I’ve written on cortisol’s important anti-inflammatory quality.  When your circadian rhythm is disrupted its quite likely that cortisol is not regulated.  This means your inflammation will also not be regulated.

How to Fix it

✔Stop all notifications that aren’t essential

✔Uninstall all social media apps from hand held devices

✔Create phone-free areas in your house. The bedroom is number one and the dinner table is number two

✔Set up a regular tech free times perhaps daily (the morning or times with loved one) and weekly (ex. Sunday)

✔Plan a longer tech free time or digital detox at least once a year but more often

“What Do You Want to Pay Attention To?”

  • Evaluate your usage: Moment (iOS), BreakFree (Android) AND Smartphone compulsion test.
  • Cultivate behaviour change with mindfulness apps: Calm, Mindfulness or Headspace.
  • Reduce your usage: “How to break up with your phone” by Catherine Price is a 30-day step-by-step plan for creating a healthier relationship with technology.

Next Steps:

Sleep is an integral part of health.  Over the next few weeks I’ll be offering a few challenges to help you meet your goals in terms of real rest & sleep.

September brings a natural change in routine.  I encourage you to ride this wave. Join my FB group to receive support and have your questions answered each week. This begins the last week of August, 2018.  Sign up now and begin feeling better soon!

 

 

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