19, December 2011
Lately, a multitude of articles discussing a recently coined ailment affectionately referred to as “text neck” have been occupying a lot of space in my Google alerts. “Text neck” refers to head, neck and shoulder pain resulting from excessive mobile device usage. Evidently, the unnatural, hunched over position most of us adopt while using technology is not at all healthy for our spine.
Some experts are estimating that tens of thousands of people in the U.S. alone are affected by some degree of text neck.
And, while it seems somewhat contradictory, one Florida chiropractor has even gone as far as to develop a mobile phone app that helps alert users of a posture problem while texting. Using the angle your phone is being held at as an indicator, a green light in the corner of the screen means proper posture, while a red light means the opposite.
Of course all of this raises a big question: is our addiction to technology bad for our health?
I know I am extremely guilty of phone lust, though I prefer the less accusatory description of myself as “tech savvy.” Between texting, checking work emails, updating my Facebook status, becoming a super mayor on Foursquare and tweeting things I find hilarious, my phone feels like it is part of me. I try to blame it on my career choice (Social Media Coordinator) but the truth is, I’m addicted – not to my phone (I hate every phone I try) but to the constant contact it gives me with my family, friends and outside universe.
But it makes sense that anything you spend a significant amount of time doing can be harmful if it puts your body in an unnatural position. Even something as seemingly harmless as sleeping, when improperly executed, can cause discomfort due to the fact that we spend so much of our lives doing it. If you sleep with an overly stuffed pillow, for example, you can force your spine out of alignment and put your neck in a position it’s not meant to be in. If done on a nightly basis, this will most likely lead to pain and even lasting injury.
The answer is not to give up on sleep or technology, but rather to be more aware that anything done repetitively has the potential to cause harm if we are not vigilant. I’m happy to report though, so far I’m “text-neck” injury free. But I do sleep on a Mediflow pillow (with my phone underneath it) every night, just in case.
18, July 2011
I’m the first to admit, if I wake up in the middle of the night and roll over, I almost always pick up my cell phone and quick scan my texts and emails. I’m not quite sure what I think I could possibly be missing at 4 am – other than maybe a nonsensical text about deep fried pickles from my drunken friend or a chain-letter email from my aunt alerting me to my forthcoming ownership of an unclaimed diamond mine in Nigeria – and yet, I still feel compelled to look. In all fairness, if aliens landed on earth and someone chose to warn me via text in the middle of the night, I’d almost definitely get the message….and I can sleep easy knowing that.
Or not. Apparently, sleeping with technology is not always easy. Modern day technology has invaded every corner of our lives, including our bedrooms. It is no surprise that cell phones, video games and laptops are leading to less sleep. In fact, besides the physical distraction, experts at Harvard Medical School claim that exposure to artificial light before going to bed (aka playing video games, texting, using a computer) can increase alertness and suppress the release of melatonin.
Bedrooms weren’t always a communication hub – but they weren’t just for sleeping either. In the 19th century, mothers gave birth in their own bedrooms, and on the other end of the spectrum, most people died in their own beds as well. The 19th century bedroom also served as a bathroom. Most had washstands that held a water pitcher, a basin and a washcloth. At night or in cold weather when getting to the outhouse was too difficult, every bed had a chamber pot underneath.
It would seem though, with the advent of convenient perks such as indoor plumbing and hospitals, we would have learned to appreciate the simple sanctity of our bedrooms – as a place for sleeping. But our never ending quest to keep pace with everything going on around us (and to stay on high alert for alien invasions) seems to be getting the best of us.
If you are one of millions of American’s struggling to sleep, here are ten simple sleep tips
from medical professionals…but only if you PROMISE not to watch them on your laptop at night in your bedroom....