Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Why can’t I seem to put my smartphone away during bedtime?

Here’s what the scientists say: You repeatedly check your phone right up to bedtime because each message and notification gives you a tiny jolt of positive reinforcement that you consciously or subconsciously enjoy. If you’re scratching your head over that answer, we don’t blame you. We were, too. Well, simply put, you feel damn shiok every time you receive an SMS, or see a “like” or comment on each of your Facebook postings. And this feeling is addictive. It’s the same feeling that your pet dog gets whenever you reward it for good behaviour (proof we’re not that different from our dogs, after all). 

Disrupts Your Sleep
Using light-emitting (backlit) devices before sleeping inhibits the proper release of melatonin, which regulates your body’s natural sleep cycle, says a new study by the US National Sleep Foundation. Nearly all participants who reported watching TV or using backlit devices – including smartphones, tablets and handheld gaming computers – before sleeping were also found to be more prone to headaches, took a longer time to reach the deep stages of sleep (the stage of rapid-eye movement, or REM), and spend less time in it. For healthier slumber, doctors advise that backlit devices should be put away at least an hour before sleep. Dr Matt Travis Bianchi of the Harvard Medical School recommends that should you want to read before bed, stick to a book or newspapers, or use non-backlit tablet PCs.

Taxes Your Brain
In another study, neuroscientist Rodney Croft at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia proved why it’s not advisable to have your mobile device around you all the time. He strapped mobile phones to the heads of 120 men and women, before switching on some of the phones without the participants’ knowledge. Those who had their phones turned on experienced a spike in alpha waves. “Our brains emit those waves when we’re relaxed,” says Croft. “But in this instance, there’s a more-than-usual spike in alpha waves, which is an indication that the brain is working extra hard to overcome the electrical interference from the mobile phones.

May Cause Brain Tumours
If you’re worried about whether radiation from smartphones can cause brain cancer, research on this issue is still a mixed bag. A recent European study of cell phone subscription and brain tumour rates of more than 350,000 Danish citizens found no increase in risk among cell phone users, regardless of age or gender. However, an American survey found a 40 per cent increase in risk of a specific type of brain tumour associated with “high cell phone usage” in a 10-year period. Our advice: Play it safe. Try as often as you can to use a wired, hands-free device to talk on your phone. Or at least try to hold the phone an inch away from your ear while using it.

This article was adapted from: www.menshealth.com.sg

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