Did you know that the average person spends approximately 4 years of his life looking down on his cell phone?
Reports have shown in 2014, that’s 1.75 billion users, and these statistics are on the rise rapidly.
If this doesn’t inspire you to turn away from it just a little each day, and start living, then I am not sure what will. A broken device perhaps? Ok jokes aside. Funny because it’s true though?
The good news is, I am not going to make you go cold turkey on me, or even give it up forever!
Jokes aside, after returning from a trip to America where I toured my 5th book, Real Fit Food in October 2015 – about the ‘real food revolution’, was when I realised that we, as a society, have become more disconnected with a situation that was supposed to connect us.
In New York, which was my first stop, I observed every single person, either scrolling, searching, talking, texting or taking pictures on their devices. At first I wondered if this behaviour was just in the city. People are very productive there. They have high powered jobs, they’re ambitious, and after all isnt it the city of New York where dreams are made of? People choose to live in New York to dream big, do more and be more, right? So, surely they need their digital devices.
Oh, but how much?
My observation the next day was not in the streets or subways. It was in the local Star Bucks cafe. There was a queue for the bathroom that was 20 people long. Every damn person was looking down. Maybe it was because it was a well known fact that there was free Wifi there?
Then I started missing connection. The last time I had travelled overseas was 13 years prior. I remember meeting so many amazing people because I was forced to make eye contact and chat to a stranger. Thirteen years ago I didn’t have access to google maps so I had to stop someone in the street and ask for directions. As for the nearest hotel or restaurant and gym, I could get all that on an app now. So you see its brilliant, but how do we connect now?
In Australia, we may be less populated, but just as fault, so it may just appear to look less concentrated.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t find this new digital age sad. I think its genius!
In fact, if it weren’t for apps and social media, I would not have been able to make the many connections I have made over the recent years. I wouldn’t have been able to find last minute hotels and accommodations at really affordable rates, and I have met some incredible people, companies and watched some of the most genius of ideas through video blogs and searching.
The reality is though, that it does affect and have an immediate effect on our sleep.
Let’s talk about the SLUMP OF SLEEP.
Our sleep is becoming really affected. Have you started to put two and two together and realised your sleep isn’t as quality or as as long as it used to be? It’s not just about the fact that we are reading from our emails, texts and searching on line shopping catalogues or dating apps for more hours now. It’s not just about the extra time spent. It’s about the time of day we are choosing to spend it.
As a wellness coach, Im about balance remember? We need to at least carefully choose the time of day in which we use our technology for the sake of sleep. I suggest considering even at least a chosen number of days or indeed, nights where you choose to not look at your computer screens or phones right before you go to sleep.
I think some people find it really hard to stop something they love. I agree. What if I told you that you can still have wellness and better health, just by at least choosing to stop an unhealthy habit only for a period of time, particularly at night, and even that itself, makes a difference!
None of this – all or nothing – attitude. Sometimes is ok, and that is balance.
I will highlight the importance of why we must try to at least do this switching off part, sometimes. Don’t just take it from me. Look at what one of my clients, who is a surgeon, has to say about how technology disturbs our sleep.
“From the beginning of human existence to the discovery of electricity and the creation of light bulbs, humans only exposed to only natural light and no electronic devices, had their circadian clocks synchronized with the rise and fall of the sun. This is how we were created. However, with the advancement of technology and the 24/7 society, we are now altering this nature cycle and this could lead to detrimental consequence to our physical and mental health.
From the very early human existence, the light from the sun tells our body that it is day time. This is achieved by the suppression of the body clock hormone secreted in the pineal gland in our head. The humans then go out to hunt and gather. They then return home when sun is setting and the reduction of the sun light allows the pineal gland to secrete Melatonin which makes us feel sleepy. It is the nature’s way of tell us, it is time to go to bed and get rest.
Unfortunately the pervasive glow of electronic devices at night time is disrupting our circadian cycle. The lights from the electronic devices such as computer screens, smartphones and tablets often stay on throughout the night. These devices emit light of all colors but it is the blue spectrum light that suppresses our melatonin production and tricks our brain and body that it is day time. As a result we are systematically sleep-deprived because of how society works against our natural clocks. Studies has shown sleep deprivation increases the risk of mood disorders such as depression and anxiety and reduces our ability to cope with stress.
Our modern society also encourages children starring at the electronic device screen all night. The danger with disturbing children’s sleep can affect their brain development. Sleep is important for learning, memory, brain development, health. We’re systematically sleep-depriving kids when their brains are still developing, and we couldn’t design a worse system for learning.
Many epidemiology studies aslo demonstrated that shift workers have higher incidence of cancers eg ( breast, colon, prostate cancers). It has been suggested that the disruption of our body biological clock weaken the immune system. Previous animal studies showed that disruption of the biological clock can lead to accelerated neurodegeneration, loss of motor function and premature death.
This is an important issue that people don’t talk about because our society is so addicted to 24/7 lifestyle, profit driven society that bombarded us with more electronic gadgets which will result in unintended consequence in the human evolution . ”
DR BENJAMIN WEI MBBS, PhD, FRACS
So let’s invest in this word BALANCE word right now. We are getting the sleepy picture when it comes to how it impacts our overall health nightly.
It is all about BALANCE at nights.
You see, when it comes to our diet, lifestyle, health and the way we connect now, we can have it all, if we just implement balance. Balance is key.
So if you are going to use TURN OFF TECH as one of your ‘things’ you incorporate into your daily plan and 5 day digital detox, then may I suggest you choose to turn it off at least an hour before retiring?
Alternatively, you may choose to not look at devices at all 3 nights a week for example. The rest of the week, you can look at it all you want, especially if you have a night job that requires you to do so. Just make a plan to turn it off at night a bit before bed, or have a number of days where you do not look at it at all at night. Go for it the rest of the time! At least your body will have those quality days / nights to adapt.
Just do something else before you go to sleep, anything at all, to allow your eyes and brain to start to produce the hormones they need to allow you to have more quality sleep. When your hormones are happier, your body will work better, and you will in turn be happier as a result of being more well.
Make the most of both worlds.
Let me help you make some goals about how you will go about doing this. You will be able to write down your WELLNESS LOADING activities in the back of your book in the journal section.