Sleeping with your phone? How technology is impacting our health

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It’s 11 p.m., you were supposed to be asleep by now. You have to be up in less than six hours. Who’s to blame? Most likely, you are. Well, with a little help from the 21st century’s biggest invention, that is.

The smart phone.Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 3.24.00 PM

“I’m terrible with my phone before bed. I will sit there for hours just scrolling through my phone. Twitter, Instagram, texting …” said Michigan State senior Kacy Kobakof.

According to the International Telecommunications Union, also known as ITU, 96 percent of people have active cellphone subscriptions. Since 1985 the number of cellphone subscriptions in the United States increased from 340,213 to 3.5 million. That means that in just over 30 years, the number of cellphone subscriptions has gone up 882 percent.

While the rise in technology has made communication easier, benefited medicine and increased world-wide education; we sometimes forget that too much of it can cause a decrease in our physical and mental health.

“The major issue we are seeing now that is different from 10 or 20 years ago is that people are constantly streaming media,” said Ohio State University’s Psychiatry and Behavioral Health professor, Ryan Patel. “The smartphone wasn’t around before 2006 and now just about everyone has one.”

Patel is right. According to the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone and in just the last six years, the number of Americans who own a smartphone has increased from 35 to 64 percent.

“I mean iPhones have become such a big thing, they have everything on them. You know texting, social media, internet, Netflix,” said Kobakof.

By containing the information and stimulation the average American is seeking, our smartphones are inevitably a large part of our life. How is that putting us at a disadvantage?

“The entertainment aspect of electronic devices leaves you emotionally charged,” said Patel. “Keeping you up well past the time you planned to be.”

“I swear almost every morning I wake up so tired because I was on my phone all night,” said Kobakof.

While the entertainment aspect of our smartphones is leaving us emotionally charged, our brains are also affected by the light, said Patel. “The bright lights that are emitted from cell phones affect our brain and can delay sleep.”

Patel says the lights given off from our smartphones can delay our sleep up to three hours.

To avoid losing sleep over your electronic device, according to Patel you should “try to do non-technology required tasks closer to bedtime. Get your stuff ready for the next day, maybe take a shower at night instead of in the morning.”

Overall, Patel said “just try to limit device use in those last couple hours of your day.”

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