By Oge Okafor ([email protected])
Mobile cell phones are meant to serve us but the reverse seem to be the case. Instead of cell phones becoming our slaves, we are fast turning slaves to these devices. They’re fast becoming a health concern to us. For instance, it’s fast becoming a norm to see adults behind the wheel with one hand on the steering while the other hand is fiddling with a cell phone. They forget that there are other road users as well and that with just a momentarily loss of concentration coupled with pothole-ridden roads that could result in an accident that could claim lives.
A second tendency has silently crept in and even though teens are the major culprits, adults are not spared. With so many social media platforms like facebook, twitter, whatsapp, Instagram, Twoo, 2go and skype as well as attractive offers and affordability of data on android devices, there is so much jostling for our time. It is no wonder that we are so captivated and confronted with the decision of whether to go to bed or continue online chatting and browsing.
According to a new study by the University of Montreal, cell phones are wreaking havoc on teenagers’ sleep patterns, reports Daily Mail. With just two hours a day of talking and gossiping on the phone, texting or being online, it dramatically affects the (young) body clocks as there is increased risk of getting fewer than eight hours sleep, which is the optimum.
This study is true even in our environment as fiddling and fondling cell/mobile phones is common among young adults in the office, during meetings, at church, in the bus and even at night before going to bed. The obsession is so rife and ludicrous.
Young adults have never had it so bad as they sleep less, wake up at night more and tend to be drowsier during the day than previous generations. Ours have become the most social media-dependent generation to date. Electronic media are becoming a larger part of our teen’s lives and are often used before bed.
Researchers found that the more teens spoke on the phone, texted and trawled social media before bed, the worse their sleep patterns.
According to a researcher, Christina Calamaro, who studies teens and sleep loss at Nemours Alfred I. Du Pont Hospital for children in Wilmington, Delaware, missing out on sleep increases young people’s risk for depression, problems with thinking and attention and weight gain. Calamaro advised that parents should model healthy sleep behaviour and not use electronics in the bedroom.
Dr Gabriel Omonaiye adds that “cell phones could affect the quality of sleep in a variety of ways as calls, text messages, whatsapp updates, the ringing and vibrations of the devices disrupt sleep. When people become hyper vigilant and expecting that their phones may ring or vibrate at night, they’re deprived of deep and refreshing sleep.
Addiction to net surfing, chatting and excessive facebook, could keep some people awake far into the night, when ordinarily they ought to be asleep”
The light from the screen of mobile phones reduces the sleep inducing hormone melatonin and increases cortisol, which is associated with wakefulness. Keeping handsets in the bedroom could impact negatively on REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase of sleep. The circadian rhythm is also impaired as the brain is deceived into believing that it is still daytime. The net effect is that sleep time is reduced as well as quality and loss of early morning post-sleep refreshment while some individuals will still be drowsy, he adds.
When you’re scrambling to meet the demands of a busy schedule or keeping up with the latest news and gossip, cutting back on sleep may seem like the only answer. Sacrificing an hour or two of rest in order to get more done can sound like a reasonable trade-off, but the truth is that even minimal sleep loss takes a toll on your mood, energy, mental sharpness and ability to handle stress. And over the long-term, chronic sleep loss wreaks havoc on your health.
Sleep is a necessity, not a luxury. The quality of your sleep directly affects the quality of your productivity, emotional balance, creativity, physical vitality and even your weight. No other activity delivers so many benefits with so little effort.
Sleep isn’t merely when your body shuts off. While you rest, your brain stays busy, overseeing a wide variety of biological maintenance that keeps your body running in top condition, preparing you for the day ahead. Without enough hours of restorative sleep, you won’t be able to work, learn, create and communicate at a level even close to your true potential. Regularly skimp on “service” and you are headed for a major mental and physical breakdown.
While sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, most healthy adults need between 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best. Children and teens even need more- from 10 to 18 hours depending on the age of the child to 8.5 to 10 hours for teenagers. According to the National Institute of Health, the average adult sleeps less than seven hours per night, which in today’s fast-paced society may sound pretty good but in reality though, it’s a recipe for chronic sleep deprivation.
The best way to figure out if you are satiating your sleep needs is to evaluate how you feel as you go about your day. If you are logging enough hours, you will feel energetic and alert all day long, from the moment you wake up until your regular bedtime.
You find that it feels normal to be sleepy when you are in a boring meeting, struggling through the afternoon slump, or dozing off after dinner, but the truth is that it’s only “normal” if you are sleep-deprived.
While it may seem like losing sleep isn’t such a big deal, sleep deprivation has a wide range of negative effects that go way beyond daytime drowsiness. Lack of sleep affects judgment, coordination and reaction times. In fact, sleep deprivation can affect you just as much as being drunk. The effects include fatigue, lethargy and lack of motivation, loss of concentration and memory problems. Others are moodswings,irritability and inability to cope with stress, diminished creativity and problem-solving skills; difficulty making decisions, inability to cope with stress, diminished immunity; frequent colds and infection, weight gain, impaired motor skills and increased risk of accidents, increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and other health problems.