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Back in 1982, when ET whispered in that unmistakably croaky voice that he wanted to phone home, the world was a different place. No internet of things, no email, and no mobile phones. A bridge too far perhaps to even imagine! Fast forward to today where the mobile phone has become a visible appendage for many, providing easy entertainment and endless noise in a world that’s always ‘on.’

Research suggests the average person checks their phone about 150 times a day.

 

No wonder many people feel so out of control, addicted to distraction and burnt out – all that noise depleting valuable brain energy. The mobile device is slowly controlling the user rather than the other way around.

As a medical doctor I frequently see the effects of chronic distraction and its impact on psychological fitness, willpower, relationships and overall wellbeing.

When I got my first iPhone a number of years ago, it was so shiny and smooth, such a sleek companion for ‘multitasking’, offering up the possibility of handling email, texts and an ever growing numbers of apps and social media platforms. Not to mention multifunctionality; its ‘doubling up’ as a camera, note taker, schedule organiser, even an alarm clock. Too good to be true! Perhaps.

Bringing your mobile phone to bed with you as your morning wake up call may make perfect sense. It did for me. Until you realise just how nonsensical an idea this really is!

Out of sight, out of mind as the saying goes; the opposite is also true.

 

Indeed the temptation to check your email or social media in your bedroom one more time ‘just in case’ can be too much for many.

Of course science has shown that the blue wavelength light on your mobile device slows down melatonin production from the pineal gland in your brain; keeping you awake, alert, awaiting one more emergency email or twitter feed. Reducing the quality of restful restorative sleep.

So the following day you feel more stressed, anxious and irritable with reduced attention span and willpower.

And recent research on sleep deprivation shows effects on your immune system and hormones (Ghrelin and Leptin) that regulate appetite and weight control. Overall impacting on your ability to think, feel and be at your best.

And when you wake up in the morning to turn off your phone alarm, the tendency to check overnight messages etc before you’re even out of bed can be compelling.

Taking you away from the present moment and into another world and space, depriving you and those people you care about of the gift of starting your day on your own terms.

And I can also talk about this from personal experience. Because a few years ago that was me – I wore that teeshirt.

I can honestly say that buying a simple alarm clock and committing to keep my mobile phone out of the bedroom, has enhanced the quality of my sleep, improved my overall wellbeing and enabled me to be more present.

 

And breaking this habit can be good for you too!

 

Phones are here to stay and I’m not suggesting you get rid of yours. What I am offering is the idea that you take control of your technology rather than letting it control you.

I am also suggesting that a regular digital detox with less time on your phone can really enhance your wellbeing.

 

Perhaps ‘ET Phone home’ can be a reminder to leave your mobile phone in a phone ‘basket.’

 

Give yourself better quality sleep and gift yourself and others with more of your presence. Make your bedroom a phone-free zone.

Control your distraction from the phone during your day by placing it on airplane mode when you are socialising, eating and interacting with family and friends. Fly High!