The Effect of Technology on your Health

iWork in Bed?

We are the first to admit - yes, sometimes we check Facebook before going to bed. Or we eat lunch with an iPad instead of a friend because we need to catch up on emails. Our instincts tell us it's not healthy, yet modern life has its challenges.

Here are some of the worst technology related health risks, from silly sounding (cyberchondria— excessive health anxiety caused by online searches) to dead serious (cell phones and car accidents). How many apply to your life?

Ipad in bed
Ipad in bed
  • Smartphone stress - constantly checking alerts and messages.
  • Acne caused by oil and bacteria on cell phones (tell your teens!). Dermatologists call it acne mechanica. “It happens to violinists around the chin and football players with the chin strap — it’s [caused by] not letting the pores breathe, and the repetitive motion causes friction. Now we’re seeing it with cellphones.”
  • Radiation from cell phones.
  • Computers causing carpal tunnel, neck and back pain
  • Sleep problems, burns and lowered sperm count from cuddling with a laptop on your bed or couch
  • Decreased attention span from using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Text
  • Isolation and substituting real social interactions with online interactions
  • Sedentary lifestyle and obesity

The Sleeping Habit That Can Make You Hungrier, Plumper, and Forgetful suggests that the modern, round-the-clock lifestyle, made possible by electric lighting, and an abundance of mobile devices could disrupt metabolism and interfere with learning in ways that are only just beginning to be understood.

Amazingly, 95 percent of those surveyed in the National Sleep Foundation's 2011 Sleep in America  poll report using some type of electronic device within an hour of going to bed, and about 20 percent reported being awakened by phone calls, text messages or email, at least a few nights a week. All of these activities affect our circadian rhythm, which affects our:

  • Short term memory
  • Creativity and learning performance
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Diabetes and heart disease risk
  • Immune system
  • Risk of getting cancer

Obviously, we are not in favor of turning back the clock, throwing out our cell phones or smashing our laptops. However, there at least a few simple thing you can do. First, read our blog on The Art of Good Sleep. Then, check out f.lux , a free app you can download onto all your mobile devices. It makes the color of your computer's display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day, which makes a huge affect on many physiological functions. Read about the research and benefits here.

And if you like to read before bed, check out this new study that compares the effects of reading an iPad before bed, versus a regular paper book. For general questions on how to get better sleep, join us for our Sleep Workshop, where a panel of experts will share their tips and answer your questions.

If you're looking to break bad habits and get into a good rhythm, check out this blog we wrote..