When was the last time you looked at your phone? Thirty minutes ago? Ten minutes ago? Maybe you’re reading this on your phone.
Whether we care to admit it or not, our cell phones are a major part of our lives. The average person spends over four hours a day staring at that tiny screen.
There’s no doubt that smartphones have changed the way we live. Not only do we use them to stay connected and to communicate, but we take photos, save notes, pay bills, and more.
Because smartphones have so many different options and styles of communication, people can connect easily and quickly. Not everyone has the same communication style (some like to talk, some like to text), so smartphones allow people to communicate in the way they feel most comfortable.
Smartphone technology also allow industries, like healthcare, to be more accessible. Features like texting, apps, and video calls allow for immediate connection and fewer road blocks. Especially in the healthcare industry, sick patients can now utilize telehealth options to connect with their doctor without leaving the house and risk spreading germs.
There are many functional apps available to help develop good habits. You can track your nutrition and activity levels. You can also track productivity and mental health. This technology allows you to be more attuned to your body and your wellness than ever before.
While our smartphones have changed the way we live our lives, they also have a huge impact on our health that may be overlooked.
These seemingly innocent little devices can have a huge impact on your quality of sleep as well as your posture and musculoskeletal health.
Back and Neck Pain
Depending on how your neck is angled, looking down at your phone can put huge amounts of pressure on your neck and spine. While it may seem like you only glance down at your phone for a minute or two, that time can add up.
Over time, this stress on your neck can alter your posture and lead to Upper Cross Syndrome. This means that the continuous bad posture causes your shoulders to round, your head to lean forward, your back muscles to become very weak, and your chest muscles to become very tight. This can cause tightness and pain throughout the upper body.
Tension Headaches and Eye Strain
Excessive screen time can cause eye strains and even headaches. Depending on the brightness of your display, your eyes may have trouble adjusting. The distance at which you hold your phone away from your face can also strain your eyes, especially if you’re reading small font or endlessly scrolling.
Smartphones give off a blue light which suppresses your brain’s production of melatonin, a hormone that helps you with your sleep timing and circadian rhythm. At night, melatonin levels are supposed to be on the rise in anticipation of sleep. However, the blue light from your phone sends a signal to your brain that it is time to wake up, throwing off your sleep schedule and REM sleep.
Poor sleep impairs your body’s ability to repair and restore itself. This lack of quality rest can leave you feeling exhausted, sore, or stressed. If you find yourself having a hard time falling asleep at night or you wake up feeling completely drained, try going phone free for an hour or two before you intend to go to sleep. Studies have shown that this can help you relax and fall into a deep sleep faster and longer.
Tips to Moderate Smartphone Use
There are several easy adjustments we can make to our phone habits to moderate our use and minimize the negative effects.
- Focus on your posture while using your phone. You can also perform exercises and stretches to loosen and strengthen your muscles to keep them from becoming too stressed.
- Turn off notifications/apps
- Enable blue light blocker in settings or use blue light-blocking glasses
- Move phone to eye level instead of looking down
- Use voice-to-text feature or just talk on the phone instead of texting.
- Leave the phone alone at least an hour before bed, and don’t sleep with the phone.
Phone Health and Airrosti
If your phone habits have left you with neck stiffness or pain has been interfering with your work or daily activities, schedule an appointment with an Airrosti provider today. Our expert providers pinpoint the cause of your pain and treat it directly at the source. They also equip you with personalized exercises and stretches to increase strength and flexibility of targeted muscles and help prevent future injuries.
If connecting virtually is more conducive to your schedule, consider scheduling a remote telehealth appointment. Give us a call at 800-404-6050 to schedule or learn more here.
Read our Medical Disclaimer here.