Cell phones: The Importance of Disconnecting

NBC Health and Fitness Expo, Washington, D.C.

Cell phones: How and Why to Disconnect –

Today I’m talking about something that is small, rectangle shaped and you probably don’t leave home without it – and if you do leave home without it, you most likely turn back to go get it… What is it?

Yes, your cell phone!

How many of you have a cell phone? How many of you have more than one cell phone? How many of you have a cell phone and a tablet? This is more of a rhetorical question. In this day and age, I should probably be asking, who DOESN’T have a cell phone?

Why would I be talking about cell phones at a Health and Wellness Expo? Cell phones can help you reach your health and fitness goals by tracking your steps, your physical activity, and your sleep. You can look up anything you’re interested in related to health by the tap of a button. There are meditation apps, and so much more! All of these tools can help you to live a healthier lifestyle.

As amazing as these devices are, they can come at a cost- even more than the $500 plus dollars you dish out to buy one… Unfortunately, using these little gadgets can also have negative health impacts on your body, mind, relationships, etc.

Here are 4 reasons WHY we need to disconnect more and HOW to do it:

Reason #1. Our cell phones negatively impact on our sleep!

In 2016, CDC declared that sleep deprivation is a public health EPIDEMIC. An epidemic! A third of US adults report that they usually get less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep each night.  “Not getting enough sleep is linked to many chronic diseases and conditions—such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression. Getting enough sleep is not a luxury—it is something people need for good health.” –CDC Website.  Sleep deprivation impacts our ability to drive safely, think clearly, and manage stress. We also tend to eat more when we’re tired, which can lead to weight gain. Sleep deprivation is linked to several chronic diseases and conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression.

Cell phones emit a blue light. This blue light tricks our brain to think its daytime. It disrupts our body’s natural sleep-wake cycle making it harder for us to fall asleep and stay asleep. Not only does the blue light make it harder for us to fall asleep, but the content of what we’re looking at on our phones gets our wheels turning in our heads. If we’re thinking, planning, worrying, etc., it’s hard to “turn off” our brains and move into sleep mode.

What can you do?

  1. In your phone’s settings, adjust the backlight to a “warmer” setting.
  2. Give your phone a proper bedtime. Put it away 1 to 2 hours before your bedtime.
  3. Turn your phone on “Do Not Disturb” at a specific time.
  4. Turn your phone on “Airplane Mode” at night.
  5. Give your phone rules around the house. For example, “No phone in the bedroom.”
  6. Put your phone in a “cell phone sleeping bag“.

 

Reason #2. My back hurts!

Cell phone use is wreaking havoc on our physical bodies, especially the neck and back. Before I go on, let’s all do something together. Take out your phone (if you’re not on it already),  hold it as if you were writing a text message (or reading a blog post). Now, pause. Don’t move. Just notice your body. Notice your posture. Your neck. Your shoulders. We are in this position often. Phones, computers, driving, carrying our children. Have you seen that image of the (de)evolution of man? We’re already fighting against gravity and the amount of time we are spending in this posture on our phones and devices are only helping to pull us down. 

What can you do?

  1. Use the Moment app to find out exactly how much time you’re spending on your phone.
  2. Practice stretches that open the chest and stretch the shoulders.
  3. Put your phone down more often. 😉

Reason #3. Our relationships are suffering

Our virtual relationships and lives sometimes get more attention than the ones that are right in front of us. Connection is one of the six basic human needs. We are actually wired to connect. We feel so connected with the use of our technology and social media. We can see what a high school classmate ate for breakfast (whether you want to or not). We can find long-lost friends and meet new ones with common interests and goals. It really is amazing. However, all of the virtual connections we are having don’t fill that basic human need for connection in the same way. The other problem is that these virtual relationships can negatively impact your relationships at home. These powerful ads show us how these small devices can have a BIG impact on our relationships. If you haven’t seen these images before, you have to take a look.  These images will definitely give you a nudge to put your phones down more often and connect with the people right in front of you, meeting one of your basic human needs.

What can you do?

  1. Put your phone away.
  2. Make plans to spend more time with family and friends. Cell phones not invited.
  3. Make a rule: No phones allowed in the bedroom.

 

Reason #4. Cell phone radiation

Now, I’m going to take it a step further. What about the research about cell phone radiation? Is anyone worried about this? What about Wi-fi? Have you considered what this could potentially be doing to our bodies? Wi-fi is a relatively new technology. We don’t have the long-term research on this yet. And a lot of the research out there is contradictory. So let’s develop a “prevention” mindset (just in case).

What can you do?

  1. Put your phone in Airplane Mode, turning off both cell and wi-fi signals.
  2. Turn your wi-fi modem off at night.
  3. If your kids are using a phone or tablet, put it in airplane mode.
  4. Put your phone on airplane mode at night, especially if you sleep with it next to you.
  5. Invest in a case that blocks the EMF radiation.

If you’re interested in learning more about the negative impacts cell phones can have on our health and how to disconnect more often, check out these helpful links:

CDC declares sleep disorders a public health epidemic

American Academy of Pediatrics 

Blue light blocking glasses 

Family Media Plan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kristy S. Rodriguez, wife and mom of two, is a pre- and postnatal wellness expert and advocate is the owner and founder of Pure Nurture, LLC and author of Pure Nurture: A Holistic Guide to a Healthy Baby.  As a yoga teacher, health coach, and birth educator, she empowers and inspires women to nurture and nourish themselves through pregnancy and motherhood to create a healthy new life- both for mom and baby.   She teaches classes and workshops locally in the DC Metro area and online. She is a contributing editor at Pregnancy Magazine and is regularly featured in the media, such as Great Day Washington, Northern Virginia Magazine, Fit Pregnancy, Parents Magazine, and more. With her cumulated years of experience in education and health, she brings extensive knowledge, personal experience, and deep compassion to and for her students.  She is currently working on a Ph.D. in Mind-Body Medicine at Saybrook University’s College of Integrative Medicine and Health Sciences.

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