Why Your Devices May Be Ruining Your Health (and What To Do About It)

As a personal trainer in the heart of San Francisco's financial district, I've worked with hundreds of stressed out, A-type technology junkies (and I love them all!). Every day I see firsthand the negative impact computers, cell phones and other devices is having on our mental and physical health.

The artificial blue light emitted by popular devices triggers our sympathetic ("fight or flight") nervous systems. Our pulse increases. Our bodies release stress hormones. Basically we're in a state of constant overdrive and our parasympathetic ("rest and digest") nervous systems cannot keep up. This leads to weight gain, gastrointestinal issues, cellular damage, illness/lowered immunity, lowered brain functioning/productivity, disordered sleep, anxiety and depression. It's petrifying.

Physically these devices force our bodies into unnatural postures (flexed hips, elevated/internally rotated shoulders and flexed spines with no core engagement) that lead to chronic tightness of certain muscles, weakness in others, pain, joint dysfunction and lack of oxygen to the brain. I cover this topic in detail in this blog post.

What To Do About It

So whether you are reading a scathing email from your boss or scrolling through funny cat videos on Facebook, the impact on the body and central nervous system can be damaging.  But there are some simple inventions/lifestyle adjustments you can do to help mitigate these effects without going completely off grid. Thanks to the folks at Harvard Medical School for these suggestions:

  • Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.
  • Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.
  • If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue-blocking glasses (such as these) or installing an app that filters the blue/green wavelength at night.
  • Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alertness during daylight.

Does It Work?

One of my awesome clients suffered for months with digestion issues and poor sleep. In addition to seeking medical help to be tested for food sensitivities we experimented with a simple lifestyle change. She agreed to put down all devices one hour before bed. That one small change made all the difference. Almost immediately her sleep improved. WIth improved sleep her digestion, mood and mental sharpness improved. We were both shocked by just how effective this one small change could be to her health and life.