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Is Your Phone Ruining Your Health?

Posted in E-Health & Technology 28 Oct, 2015

Which of us is complete without his or her phone? Leave it behind and there's panic stations galore. What if someone tries to call, or Joe Perry (hot flush!) updates his status on Facebook?

Now that mobile phones are such a big part of our lives it'll come as no surprise to find out that they're affecting our health. Here's how.

Interrupted Sleep

Do you check your phone in the night? It appears that many of us do. This is not only bad news because we ought to be asleep, but because the light disturbs our brains and makes us think morning has broken (like the first morning, Blackbird has....). We then spend the remaining night fidgeting and disturbing our partners instead of getting enough restorative slumber. Sleep needs protection; it's precious because if we don't get enough it leads to problems like weight-gain, stress, diabetes and hysterical crying over the RSPCA adverts.

It's not just us grown-ups that do it either. A new study shows that children are routinely waking in the night to check messages and social media updates, which has a detrimental effect on their schooling.

Heads, Shoulders (Knees and Toes)

Bending forward to squint at a phone? Research demonstrates that when you hunch forward you put 60 pounds of extra pressure on your cervical spine - that's the bit above your shoulders. Your head is pretty heavy and it needs to balance over the centre of your body or you'll develop 'tech neck'.

Studies on slouching and bad posture have shown they lead to depression, constipation, heart burn, migraine and respiratory problems. A good posture allows oxygen and blood to flow unimpeded around the body.

Lack of Personal Interaction

How many people have found themselves in bed with their partner just looking at phones before turning out the lights for sleep? That's everyone then. Distractions on Facebook or text conversations divert our attention. I was talking to my husband a few nights ago when he suddenly picked up his phone and started to read a text. That faux pas lead to even less interaction, if you get my meaning.

The Big C?

There have been many studies into the effects of phones on the brain, but nothing to date is conclusive. The NHS recommend children under 16 should only use phones for essential purposes and even then it should be hands-free, the theory being that developing brains are more susceptible.

A larger study on school children has just begun which will monitor 2500 eleven to twelve year olds until 2017, to see how their cognitive ability might be affected by phone use. It's worth keeping your eyes peeled for that.

So where does this leave us? No-one will give up their phone without a fight, I mean, what if that handsome new Canadian PM wants to call? But perhaps we should take a closer look at how phones interfere with our lives because they leave us with poor quality sleep, poor relationships and dodgy health.

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