When was the last time your tech devices improved your sleep & posture or increased the time you spent in nature?! When was the last time social media truly made you feel a deep connection to your friends or family or yourself? Exposure to technology and the amount of time we spend utilizing it are unavoidable most days in our efforts to connect quickly to the rest of the world....I mean come on, it's a bit ironic I'm taking full advantage of my devices and social media to provide you with information to combat the negative consequences of technology. However, there are so many great lifestyle habits I want to share it's worth a few extra minutes of computer time!
SLEEP DEPRIVATION: The effects of sleep deprivation costs the U.S. up to $411 billion a year, and those that are clocking less then 7 hours (the minimal recommended amount), show an elevated chance of dying early according to a 2016 study from the Rand Corporation. A recent study from The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), found 35 percent of adults are not getting enough sleep which can lead to a decline in cognitive thinking. Our technology saturated lifestyle is adding fuel to the fire. Here are basic steps to make sleep a priority:
1)Avoid smart devices, television, stimulating shows and arguments at least 2 hours before bed.
2) Eliminate blue light exposure. Blue light is emitted from computers, televisions, cell phones, etc. that disrupt our natural circadian rhythm by reducing melatonin production in the evening. Melatonin is a hormone that increases with a reduction in light making us feel sleepy. Download this FREE app to eliminate blue light on your device: justgetflux.com . An added bonus of the app is that it reminds you when you are waking up based on whatever time you input, further encouraging you to shut down your device and get some ZZZ's. Amber/yellow-orange lenses that block blue light are also an option but make sure to buy glasses that block 90% of blue light wave emissions to be effective.
3)Ditch your devices for extra self-care time! Incorporate lifestyle changes such as yoga, healthy dietary habits, and meditation before bed to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is predominant when we are relaxed which reduces cortisol levels (our primary stress hormone). Cortisol levels should be highest in the morning and gradually decline throughout the day. An imbalance can significantly decrease deep sleep. Deep sleep activates growth hormone to repair the body and allows the brain to be cleansed through it's own unique lympathic system (known as the glymphatic system). A lack of deep restorative sleep will result in fatigue, trouble concentrating, impaired emotional regulation and immune function.
- Yoga: Forward bends can cool the body which enhances deep sleep (for even better quality sleep, the room temperature should ideally be around 68 degrees). A posture known as waterfall can also be very restorative. Lie on your side with knees bent very close to a wall, your spine should be perpendicular to the wall. Roll on your back and extend your legs up the wall (you can adjust your position depending on flexibility so your legs are straight up the wall or slightly bent). Allow your hands to rest at your sides, either palms face up in a "T position or hands can rest gently on your belly. This is a great time to utilize an eye pillow to block out any artificial light (You can buy an organic washable lavender scented eye pillow with an adjustable strap here). Breathe deeply from your lower abdomen and stay in this position for 10-15 minutes or as long as comfortable. To move out of the posture, pull your knees into the chest and roll to one side. Holistic Zen Acupuncture & Therapeutic Yoga offers private therapeutic yoga sessions that can be combined with acupuncture to strongly activate the parasympathetic nervous system. An extra benefit of therapeutic yoga is that the postures counteract poor posture from computer work, driving, texting, etc.. The poses are held longer then traditional yoga poses allowing for a more lasting impact on connective tissue resulting in a significant change in range of motion and pain relief. Click here to schedule an appointment!
- Healthy Dietary Habits: Avoid using your smart devices while eating. Chew slowly and mindfully, eating at least two hours prior to bedtime. A moderate amount of protein & carbohydrates can regulate blood sugar throughout the night (a great snack is 1/2 banana, roasted organic cashews, and himalayan pink salt). In Chinese Medicine, a purple mountain plant known as Kudzu or Ge Gen is a great medicinal herb to calm the nervous system, reduce blood pressure, alleviate headaches/upper back tension, and regulate blood sugar levels. Here is a nourishing recipe courtesy of Hormones & Balance to try: Sleepy Lime Pudding. Also worth mentioning, keep caffeine consumption under 500mg and avoid after 12PM. Alcohol, tranquilizers, and most sleeping pills can cause sleep disturbances (less quality sleep) as well.
- Meditation: Qi Gong is based in traditional Chinese Medicine and is a form of breath meditation. Qi Gong emphasizes allowing your breath to begin below the belly button and above the pubic bone, with each inhale breath the lower abdomen expands outward and then each exhale breath this area gently contracts. Deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system by stimulating stretch receptors in the lungs, diaphragm, and chest muscles which influences the vagus nerve (this nerve influences our heart rate and digestion among many other things). Here is a link from TIME magazine with some guidelines on "6 Breathing Techniques to Relax in 10 Minutes or Less".
ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION EXPOSURE: Avoid electromagnetic radiation exposure from your personal electronic devices that can impact your health including your fertility and likelihood of developing cancer. I recommend using Safe Sleeve Cases for your smart phone devices that deflect and absorb up to 99% of all types of radiation.
LACK OF OUTDOOR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY/NATURAL LIGHT EXPOSURE: Technology often encourages a sedentary lifestyle, and we miss out on outdoor activities where we are exposed to natural light. At least 10,000 steps a day and exposure first thing in the morning to natural light can be incredibly beneficial for regulating our circadian rhythm and serotonin (a "feel good" hormone). It is important to expose the naked eye (without sunglasses) to natural light for 15 minutes daily to stimulate the hypothalamus (a master gland in the body that regulates biological rhythms including body temperature and hormones).
ISOLATION/DISCONNECTION: Technology can expedite the communication process allowing for "greater and more efficient connections" but on the flip side we can all probably relate to the negative feelings we've experienced flipping through social media or staring at a computer screen all day leading to feelings of withdrawal or isolation. Human contact is vital to our health! Skin to skin contact at birth is essential! Our interaction with each other has so many benefits including elevated oxytocin levels (the cuddling hormone), increased serotonin levels, reduced cortisol and improved immune function. According to Chinese Medicine, as summer time approaches, the days become longer and more full of yang (active) energy which is a wonderful time to be social, especially outdoors. If you tend to withdraw from people and/or are experiencing negative feelings a therapeutic massage can also be helpful to reconnect to yourself in a nurturing environment. Click here to book an appointment!
Holistic Zen Acupuncture & Therapeutic Yoga hopes to connect with you in person and looks forward to being part of your path to wellness. You can contact us with any questions through our Contact page.