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Brain Drain: Cell Phone Overuse Can Interfere With Sleep, Cognitive Capacity, Reports Say

Smartphone overuse can interfere with sleep and cognitive capacity, new reports say
Smartphone overuse can interfere with sleep and cognitive capacity, new reports say Photo Credit: Pixabay

Smartphone technology has undoubtedly changed the way we access the world of information that has become available at our fingertips. 

But new research from the University of Chicago has shown that overusing those phones can interfere with sleep and have other negative effects of cognitive ability.

From self-esteem to memory, attention span, creativity, productivity and more, smartphone technology is having a myriad of negative effects for those who overuse it.

Dopamine is the main brain chemical considered when discussing the biochemical effects of smartphones. But a new analysis of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, shows a staggering spike during times of smartphone use — even something that seems harmless, like receiving a notification, can alter the brain’s perception.

Scientists also argue that nighttime smartphone usage negatively alters the body’s natural 24-hour cortisol levels and can make it harder to get to sleep or make the body less resilient to stress.

Fortunately, all it takes is a bit of mindfulness to limit the negative effects of smartphone use. Here are some suggestions from The New York Times:

  • Set your smartphone to give you only the notifications you actually want/need
  • Take regular breaks when using the technology — or try a “24-hour “digital Sabbath” to lower stress levels
  • Try to recognize the stress/anxiety that comes with craving smartphone use — these emotions often manifest as contractions in the chest
  • Think about how each different app makes you feel as you use it — do you check apps solely for fun, or do some of them make you feel anxious?
  • Hide the apps that make you feel anxious in a separate folder away from your phone’s home screen (or try deleting them altogether)

With a bit of practice, anybody can cut down on their smartphone use and rebalance cortisol and dopamine levels.

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