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Switching off…Why Your Health Depends On It

I was shocked to recently read statistics associated with i-phone use: Over 90% of those aged between 18 to 29 sleep with their smart phones next to them; 1 in 3 people would rather give up sex than their i-phone and 60% of us are sleep deprived due to i-phone use.

Apart from the electromagnetic radiation issues associated with sleeping next to an iphone (a significant infertility factor), it also creates a real mental health issue, with us being unable to ever “switch off”, not to mention placing a toll on our personal relationships with our phone often replacing our partner on the other side of the bed.

Time and time again I see clients who feel so burdened by work issues, with no down time, feeling they need to be constantly in work mode- checking emails, responding to calls and thinking about work issues at least 14 hours per day. It was not so long ago, less than a decade in fact, where accessing emails from phones was a novelty and arriving to work would be the first time you would access your inbox and know the tasks required for the day. How have we become so entrenched in a work-dominated culture in such a short period of time? And what will happen if we do not rein in our 24/7 work availability?

In a study Consequences of late-night smartphone use and sleep, researchers from Washington, Florida and Michigan State universities have found that using smartphones before bed disturbs sleep, negatively affects work and accelerates “ego depletion” which refers to people’s capacity to self-regulate behaviour and act positively and productively.

The importance of “switching off” from work has been recognised by European countries such as France and Germany, coincidentally countries with the highest productive rates in the world.

Germany’s employment ministry has banned managers from calling or emailing staff out of hours except in emergencies, under new guidelines intended to prevent employees burning out.

France has had a 35 hour work week in place since 1999 and a new labour agreement in place affecting staff in the technology and consulting sectors which requires employers to make sure staff “disconnect” and do not check their staff phones outside of work hours.

What can you do to try to detach yourself from constant I-phone use?

  • Delete your work email account from your phone
  • Set a new precedent of not responding to work emails after work hours and responding to calls if they are urgent
  • Switch off from all electronic devices at least two hours before sleep. It will make for better sleep and ensure you wake refreshed and ready to tackle the next day with the motivation and energy required
  • Charge your i-phone in the kitchen or living room not your bedroom
  • Do not sleep with your iphone next to you or put it in aeroplane mode to prevent you checking it in the middle of the night
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