Let’s be frank : I have done it, you have done it, and most likely, a lot of people that you know still do it. Sleeping with our electronic devices is perhaps one of the most underrated health risks in modern times.
In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that electromagnetic fields produced by mobile phones are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as possibly carcinogenic to humans. Children are the most vulnerable given that their scalps and skulls are thinner than adults’, and are therefore more vulnerable to radiation. When I shared these findings with my teenage son, he was shocked and immediately embraced the recommendations you will find at the end of this post.
Just the potential health risks should be enough of a deterrent to keep our devices out of our bedroom, but there are other compelling reasons why we should be motivated to keep our bedroom electronics-free.
The temptation to play games, scan our inbox, chat with friends and read the news are just a few of the many activities that we can engage in if we invite our electronics to our bedroom in the evening. More often that not, giving in to these temptations will delay our bedtime which will surely shorten the duration of our sleep, leading us to suffer the characteristic symptoms of sleep deprivation: erratic decision making, low energy levels, mercurial emotional state, memory lapses, generalised feeling of stress, etc.
If you are in a relationship, spending time with your electronics in the bedroom will compromise the mindful and nurturing time you could devote to your partner. The quality of our close relationships plays a big part in our emotional, mental and physical state, so neglecting our personal interactions with loved ones for the sake of screen time will undoubtedly have an unwanted effected. Any relationship expert will tell you the poor communication and lack of intimacy are key contributors to the downfall of most relationships.
Well, enough with the somber news. Let’s move on to the simple tips that will improve your relationships, keep you healthy and set you up for a great day at work.
Don’t use your mobile device as an alarm clock. If you really need an alarm clock to wake up, get a dedicated alarm clock that uses a warm & gentle light and natural sound effects to get you up in the morning. Please, stay away from those incessant beeping devices that wake you up in a state of alarm and stress.
Impose a devices curfew and stick to it. First and foremost, have an open conversation with members of your household about the physical, mental and emotional perils of using electronic devices in the bedroom and then agree on a time when curfew will be observed. The imposing comes after the consensual agreement. As you know, dictatorships in civilised societies are short-lived.
Find a place outside your bedroom to put away your electronic devices. Select an official designated area in your home where all members of the household will place their devices in sleep mode or simply turned off. A designated charging station could do the trick. The adults in the house should be setting an example by always following this rule – no double standards please!
Keep a book by your bedside. Since the moment I started using this strategy, it had an immediate effect. After I put my kids to bed, most of the time I’m looking forward to reading the next section of the book currently on my nightstand. Unless of course my wife has other ideas – literature can always wait!
So please, choose wisely who you sleep with…
Some of us wake up, look at the clock and realise that although it would be nice to sit down to have a healthy, mindful breakfast, the morning rush simply doesn’t allow it. A cup of coffee, a piece of bland, dry toast and out the door. Others simply pick up something on the way to work or skip breakfast altogether. Is breakfast such an important meal after all? Can’t we make up for skipping breakfast during our other meals?
The answer I’m afraid is not that straightforward. Are you skipping breakfast because you haven’t got the time, because you are simply not hungry or because you want to lose weight? Let’s take a look at what the latest research has revealed in connection to what has been labelled in the past as “the most important meal of the day”.
For growing children, there is no doubt breakfast is an essential meal. For adults, the jury is still out.
Having a healthy breakfast has a number of health benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, those who regularly eat a healthy and mindful breakfast enjoy brain-boosting powers, enhanced immune system, heart health, improved skin, stabilised energy levels, reduced risk of eating disorders, weight control, and longevity.
In the case of short-term fasting, some researchers suggest that fasting diets that involve taking no food between dinner and lunch the next day brings benefits to the digestive system (allowing time to flush away unwanted toxins), potentially help with weight loss and cholesterol levels. Not all researchers, however, are convinced that short-term fasting benefits outweigh its risks across the board.
Skipping breakfast has been consistently associated with triggering increased hyperglycaemia (an excess of sugar in the bloodstream). Other research shows that if you experience stress when fasting (given the fact that fasting is a potentially stressful state for the body) prolonging the fast by not eating when you wake up, amplifies the stress and may lead to heart disease and other serious health conditions typically associated to stress.
Given that there are positive and negative implications to skipping breakfast, my suggestion to you is to always pay attention to how you feel both in the short-term and the long-term whenever you are making adjustments to your eating habits or strategies. Also, have the following recommendations in mind:
1.-Listen to your body’s hunger cues. Bring awareness to your eating decision-making process. On a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being famished and 10 being completely sated), for optimal mind-body performance, it’s probably wise to eat when your appetite reaches 2 or 3 and stop eating when you get to 7. This rule applies not only to breakfast, but to all meals in general.
2.-Keep it light. If you do decide to have breakfast and want to avoid energy drops in the morning, make a conscientious effort to limit your intake of sugar, fat and excess calories. A veggie or fruit juice/smoothie, oatmeal (porridge), dairy, wholewheat toast, nuts and eggs are options you could consider if you want to feel naturally alert and sharp.
3.-Keep it conscious. If you do decide to skip breakfast once in a while to test the potential benefits of short-period fasting, be aware of how you feel throughout the day. If you feel like ransacking a vending machine mid-morning to satisfy your hunger, you can kiss your productive day and weight management objectives goodbye.
4.- Don’t fool yourself. If you are skipping breakfast simply because you haven’t got the time (even though you are hungry), then the stress factor will kick-in, leading you to perhaps become exasperating and marring your decision making abilities due to your discomfort and irritable state of mind.
5.-Ask for supervision. If you want to take this fasting business seriously and for prolonged periods of time, make sure you consult with expert nutritionists and medical doctors before you embark on these experiments.
“I believe you are being dogmatic”, I was told by a lady in the audience during one of my wellbeing workshops in reference to the advise I was giving as to what is the ideal bedtime for adults. This comment came as no surprise to me since I am quite accustomed to experience pushback when I share the science that supports the recommendation of going to bed around 10pm. (more…)
In my previous articles, I mentioned 3 of the 4 reasons why we get stressed: Perceiving situations as stressful based on how our brain is wired, ingesting foods that rapidly raise our sugar levels and consuming stimulants (particularly caffeine). I’d like to share with you the 4th and less known reason why we experience stress: A hormone imbalance and/or deficiency. (more…)
In my previous posts, I shared with you two of the 4 reasons why we experience stress. The first one relates to how we perceive situations as a result of how our neural network is configured in our brain. The second trigger relates to blood sugar dips as a result of eating food with a high content of sugar that gets rapidly released in our bloodstream. This article will focus on a third common stress trigger: the consumption of caffeine loaded stimulants such as coffee and most types of tea.
Drinking coffee and tea has become so commonplace in our day-to-day lives that we have forgotten how these seemingly innocuous beverages affect our mind-body system, specifically when it comes to stress. Let us not forget that both coffee and non-herbal teas are categorised as stimulants alongside colas, caffeinated drinks, chocolate, alcohol, energy drinks, cigarettes and caffein pills. (more…)
In my previous post, I shared with you one the four reasons why we experience stress, which boils down to how we perceive situations based on the configuration of our neural network in our brain. So let’s move on to the second potential stress trigger: food.
Not many people are aware of this fact, but what we eat and how we eat can raise our stress levels even without the presence of external stimuli or challenging circumstances. To understand how food has this type of influence, it is important to remember that the stress response in our mind-body system is triggered by the release of primarily two hormones: adrenaline and cortisol. (more…)