Yep, we know you get separation anxiety when you’re away from your phone for more than a few minutes. But you need to give tech a break – it’s important for your health! Here’s why.
1 You’ll sleep better
The blue light from our phones is widely believed by scientists to suppress the production of melatonin in our bodies – the hormone that helps control our sleep patterns. This means that if you’re checking your device regularly, especially just before you go to sleep, you’re more likely to struggle to fall asleep and to sleep soundly.
At Harvard Medical School, professor of sleep medicine Charles Czeisler agrees that tech before bed is negatively impacting our ability to get good sleep: ‘It’s our exposure to artificial light, particularly in the evening between the timing of sunset and when you normally go to bed, that’s dramatically changed the timing of our endogenous circadian rhythms,’ he says.
Try downloading an app like f.lux, which changes your phone or computer screen to mimic the light of sunrise and sunset around those times, reducing the amount of harsh blue light potentially disturbing your sleep. It’s great if you have to be on your phone until just before you hit the sack, but the ideal is still to avoid all technology screens at least one hour before you want to fall asleep.
And it’s not just your screen’s light that’s stopping you from catching enough ZZZs. ‘In evolutionary terms, as soon as you have something to which you have to respond, a little blip of adrenalin let’s say, you’re in a mode that might require a response,’ said Oxford University’s Susan Greenfield in an interview. ‘You have to put yourself in an environment where you can feel relaxed and safe, where you can go back into your inner world just before you go to sleep.’
2 You’ll talk more – in a good kinda way
In an interview with Fast Company, Kate Unsworth, CEO of Kovert Designs, explained that she believed Google had killed conversation. Why? Instead of asking your friend about something (and so creating a whole conversation with them), we now tend to type our question into Google = instant convo buzz kill. ‘These are the conversations that really form bonds between people,’ Unsworth says. ‘You gain insight into the way someone’s mind works, and it is not typically a conversation anyone has had before, so it is engaging and memorable.’
3 Your anxiety will reduce
A Kent State University study of 500 students found that increased usage of cellphones leads to higher levels of anxiety and a sense of dissatisfaction with life. This could be for a number of reasons: seeing what other people post on social media can make you feel inadequate, even though the content posted is likely not a true reflection of other people’s happiness; FOMO can make you stress about not being constantly connected to what’s happening online or with your friends.
We also live in an age where, thanks to phones and the Internet, we feel like we can reach anyone at any time, anywhere. This can be amazing, but also damaging, like when your boss asks work questions out of office hours. We don’t tend to respect holidays and downtime of one another as much (contacting them even if they’re supposed to be offline). Plus, it’s more difficult to truly switch off without someone calling or messaging you because, hey, everyone knows you’ve got your phone on you anyway.
Simple hacks like ensuring you don’t get work e-mails on your phone, or turning your phone face down when you need to switch off, can help you set boundaries to reduce stress and anxiety. Switching your phone off for an hour or two a day is also helpful – try it for the first hour after you’ve woken up, or the last hour before you sleep, to carve out some much-needed off-time.
4 You’ll be more productive
We’ve all been there: part way through writing that report or catching up on admin, a Facebook notification pops up on your phone. Three hours later, and you’re still scrolling your newsfeed, you’ve forgotten your train of thought for that work thing, and have achieved pretty much zero except learning that two more of your friends got engaged (sigh).
The nature of things like social media is that they are instant, and we often feel that if we don’t check a notification now, we’ll miss out on something amazing. But the truth is, our feeds will be there for our scrolling pleasure long after we’ve finished the task at hand, and jumping between social-media platforms, e-mails and websites prevents us from knuckling down to focus on a specific task and just getting it done.
Want to get back some productivity discipline? Try banning yourself from having multiple tabs open on your computer. Instead, complete a task, then close that tab and open the next. Even better: turn off notifications from things like Facebook and Instagram. Then set aside time each day to scroll through these platforms to your heart’s content, before closing them and focusing on something else when your allotted time is up.
5 You’ll become friendlier
A study by Kovert Designs showed that when people put down their phones, their postures visibly changed. Instead of looking down into their screens, they sat up and looked more welcoming and friendly to others, making social interactions friendlier and more likely to occur. ‘A wonderful side effect of this is that people’s general energy opens up. They appear much more approachable when they enter a room,’ said CEO Kate Unsworth of the findings.