A buzz from your iPhone wakes you up just in time for work in the mornings. A few taps and some headphones deliver the latest Beyonce album to your morning commute. And when the workday is done, you use an app to order dinner just in time for you to finish FaceTiming with Grandma on her birthday.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few years, it’s clear to see how technology has rapidly changed the way we approach and accomplish tasks. With a tap of a button, we can listen to our favorite music, order meals and even catch up with family. Since technology makes doing everyday tasks simple, easy and even more enjoyable, it’s nearly impossible to imagine it could ever bringing us anything other than joy.
But while social media and texting has reconnected friendships, it’s also made us look down at our phones while grabbing dinner with girlfriends. And while it helps redirect us to our client’s office when lost, it’s also tempted us to respond to late-night, off-the-clock emails instead of spending time with family. While it’s easy to blame the screens, research shows it’s less the technology itself but more our habits when using them. Our addiction and reliance on tech has created inability to disconnect and unplug, and it has more detrimental effects than we think.
While we’re not suggesting you go totally tech-free (Grandma would miss those FaceTime chats, after all!), here are some major benefits to loosening up that grip on the iPhone:
You’ll sleep better (and feel more rested)
We know, we know. Our smartphones long ago replaced our radio alarm clocks, making leaving them outside the bedroom seem virtually impossible. But while checking your Snapchats and texting your boyfriend before bed may seem harmless, the late-night screen time may be affecting your sleep more than you think.
Our brains naturally become more alert as the sun rises and feel more at rest when it’s dark, but according to research done by the National Sleep Foundation, the light from our phones and televisions at night messes with that natural rhythm. Scrolling through your phone or watching television late into the night may make you think you’re resting, but this “evening engagement and light exposure negatively impacts sleep time, sleep quality and daytime alertness.” Always feeling tired sound familiar to you? Go ahead and buy yourself an old-fashioned alarm clock, because it’s time to put that phone away.
Say goodbye to a sore neck and back
Next time you’re sitting on the train or in the waiting room of your doctor’s office, take a look around the room. Chances are, more than half of the faces you see will be looking down, necks craned, back hunched over and, of course, phone in hand. It may not feel very uncomfortable at the time, but this Elite Daily article reminds us that this heavy part of your body (it does make up 8% of your body mass) is not meant to be weighing down the rest of your body like that. They explain that this condition, actually defined as “text neck” is a “stress injury caused by constantly hanging your head forward” and it can cause you some serious pain. Remind yourself to take breaks in between text messages, and your body will thank you.
You’ll feel more stress-free
Even if you love your job, we all have to admit we look forward to heading home after a long day of work. But if that’s true, how come nearly all of us find ourselves taking calls on the ride home, checking emails and responding to clients all the way up to bedtime? Constantly being on our laptops and phones has become such a habit, we can’t stand the idea of not being always-on. It may seem like you’re getting more done, but this Greatist article proves differently, stating “we actually need weekends and nights off to disconnect and recuperate from the stresses of work. Constantly checking email, in particular, prevents people from distancing themselves from the work environment.” In other words, more work + less free time = more stress and less productivity. So when you’re off, be off. We promise answering emails in the a.m. will be better off in the long run.
You increase your mindfulness and focus
When your pocket is constantly distracting you with its beeping and vibrating, it’s hard to concentrate on pretty much anything. Even when you’re trying to relax and decompress, you’re still being drawn to the virtual world. In this POPSUGAR article, Annie Gabillet talks about how taking a break from her phone for a week left her feeling more in tune with the environment around her, even noticing the gorgeous scenery that she normally absentmindedly passed on her daily commute. Besides just “stopping to smell the roses,” being distracted from your phone actually affects your focus on a deeper level. Greatist states that it’s “just a form of procrastination that distracts us from what’s important and inhibits the formation of short-term memories.” Multitasking doesn’t seem so great now, does it?