Health Topic Archives

Unplug Yourself

By Dr. Samuel Ascioti

As technology continues to become more and more integrated into the fabric of human society, people may find themselves spending more and more time engaged in interacting with others via electronic means. Social media platforms - such as Facebook and Twitter - have become such an important aspect of modern human interaction that, for many, these websites and apps have become indispensable. For Corning Chiropractic Associates’ September 2017 article, we will cover technology use and how you can benefit from “unplugging”!

How often do we use our devices?

Multi-taskingTake a walk outside or to any store, and count the number of people you see on their cell phone, lost in the virtual world on the tiny screen held in the palm of their hand. Mobile device usage is nearly ubiquitous these days - at the doctor’s, at the movies, and even while driving (alarmingly enough). More and more, it seems as if people are paying more attention to their virtual lives than the living one around them. Mobile device usage has become so widespread that science has actually provided some rough estimates as to how often a typical person uses their phone.

According to one study, the average cell phone user touches her phone 2,617 per day. (5) Extreme users may touch their phone more than 5,400 times per day! (5) Studies also found that the average user spends about 145 minutes on their phone. (7)

Another study states that American adults may spend about 86 hours per month on their mobile devices. (2) Ratings experts Nielsen estimates that, on average, Americans spend about 5.3% of their day e-mailing and 13.4% of the time texting. (2)

Cell Phone UseSo, is this a good thing or a bad thing? Excessive time spent in front of a computer or television screen instinctively seems negative; however, according to John Swartzberg, MD - “...if you spend that digital-free time focusing on your relationships and activities you enjoy, now that can make your life better” (8).

Some may argue that our ability to immediately communicate via the internet is a great thing; others may say that such connectivity may have a negative effect on a person’s ability to socialize or get adequate rest. Here’s a few reasons why you should unplug and power-off.

Reasons to unplug:

  1. Stress Relief - the brain needs some downtime after work (in other words, away from screens and phones) in order to “mentally recharge”. (7) After a long day at work, the shutting yourself off from anything stressful can be a deal-breaker in achieving total relaxation. Make it clear to your work colleagues that any work-related issues must wait until the next day and not to bother you with work-related e-mails and texts.
  2. Improves Mental Health Quality - according to researcher Sara Thomée , heavy users of technology (especially younger individuals) were more likely to develop mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and sleep deprivation. Younger males were especially more at risk, according to the study.
  3. Improves Sleep Quality - the light emitted by mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and television/computer screens are possibly linked to a drop in serotonin and melatonin levels; both are very important biological chemicals that aid in sleep, and a lack of either may lead to sleep deprivation and insomnia. (4,6)
  4. Combats the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) - with each refresh of a social media page or app, our screens are filled with exciting and wonderful events that our family and friends are partaking in, which can lead to feelings of isolation and FOMO, a psychological disorder that is only increasing as technology continues to advance. (3)

What Can I Do About It?

Simple: try using your phone or computer a bit less (unless absolutely necessary).

First, try an experiment. How long can you go without touching your phone? How long does it take before you get that urge to see if you have any messages? This may be a good baseline test for whether you should consider “unplugging” for a little while.

I would recommend starting off light, by setting a goal of not touching or using the phone for one set hour per day. Power it off!

Unplug YourselfPersonally, I would recommend turning the phone/tablet/TV off at least an hour before bedtime. This may help you sleep better, as melatonin production will not be interrupted by the glow of technology.

Another great time to keep the hour off is the very first hour after rising from sleep - instead of immediately reaching for the phone, try going through your normal morning routine without it. You may feel more on-track and less distracted, which can help you power through the day to follow.

Technology is a wonderful thing. It has helped humanity achieve wildly fantastic feats and has improved the quality of life of billions. However, some may fear that it is having an impact on our interpersonal relationships, and may even be contributing to mental health issues. How you use the technology available to you is ultimately your decision. Talk to your chiropractor if you are looking for alternative ways to spend your spare time!

References For This Article:

  1. Becker, J. (2017, August 08). 7 Important Reasons to Unplug and Find Space. Retrieved August 31, 2017, from https://www.becomingminimalist.com/unplug-please/
  2. How Much Time Do People Spend on Their Mobile Phones in 2017? (2017, May 09)
    Retrieved August 31, 2017, from https://hackernoon.com/how-much-time-do-people-spend-on-their-mobile-phones-in-2017-e5f90a0b10a6
  3. Kelner, S. (2013, January 13). Is FOMO depriving us of our ability to exist in the present and take pleasure in the here and now? Retrieved August 31, 2017, from
    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/is-fomo-depriving-us-of-our-ability-toexist-in-the-present-and-take-pleasure-in-the-here-and-now-8449677.html
  4. Khazan, O. (2015, February 24). How Smartphones Hurt Sleep. Retrieved August 31,
    2017, from https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/02/how-smartphones-are-ruining-our-sleep/385792/
  5. Naftulin, J. (2016, July 13). Here's how many times we touch our phones every day.
    Retrieved August 31, 2017, from http://www.businessinsider.com/dscout-research-people-touch-cell-phones-2617-times-a-day-2016-7
  6. Neil, W. (2012, September 21). IPad Insomnia. Retrieved August 31, 2017, from
    http://www.thedoctorwillseeyounow.com/content/sleep/art3817.html
  7. Park, Y., Fritz, C., & Jex, S. M. (2011, October). Relationships between work-home
    segmentation and psychological detachment from work: the role of communication
    technology use at home. Retrieved August 31, 2017, from
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21728434
  8. What Are the Health Benefits of Unplugging? (2016, January 08). Retrieved August 31, 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/berkeley-wellness/what-are-the-health-benefits-of-unplugging_b_8917956.html

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