Ask someone today about one thing they couldn’t leave the house without and chances are they’ll point to their smartphone. Like an extra limb stuck to our hips (or our hands, rather), one's phone has become a vital accessory that helps us go about our day. We might even have to admit that we've somehow become dependent on it. But aside from the side-effects of social media on our mental health, did you know that there are other ways your smartphone usage is affecting your physiological health? We spill the jarring details below (plus ways to deal with them).
Blue light may be causing your insomnia
Many of us turn to our phones prior to hitting the hay, but if you find yourself feeling more awake than drowsy after a couple of scrolls, the culprit may be the blue light emitted by your phone. This is due to light having different effects on our senses. Blue wavelengths, specifically, boost energy and brain activity, which isn’t exactly helpful when you’re about to sleep.
The trick to this is quite simple: put down your phone minutes before you actually have to go to sleep. This helps mellow down your brain activity, as well as prevent your senses from reawakening. Some phones also now have a Blue Light Filter function, which tones down the amount of blue light your screen emits.
Skin irritation or acne? It might be the dirt on your phone
Do you disinfect your phone? If not, then news flash: you have to. According to multiple studies done by various researchers, your smartphone is potentially seven times dirtier than a toilet seat. Yikes! This is due to its constant exposure to different surfaces, as well as the oils on your hands that allow for more bacteria to stick and grow on it microscopically. If you also happen to be sick and have sneezed or coughed on your phone, your gadget is now officially a pathogen cesspool.
So how do you deal with it? Many phone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung have advised various ways of cleaning certain devices. Using microfibre cloths with rubbing alcohol is one easy remedy. But if you want to take the extra mile, you can use hand soap and water carefully if your device has IP68 water resistance certification.
Poor posture due to ‘text neck’
Ever had to answer a call with both hands occupied that you had to pin your phone between your ear and your shoulder? What about spending an entire day looking down on your screen? If your answer to either or both is yes, chances are you're already dealing with the consequence: text neck. It's like a stiff neck caused by muscles cramping due to the excessive use of one’s phone. It may feel like a come-and-go hassle we have to deal with after prolonged moments with our phone, but in the long run, this can lead to long-term aches and pains related to your posture.
This is a great opportunity to remind yourself to time your smartphone usage. Sure, you have to be updated on everything but once you feel some cramping, there’s no harm in taking a five- to 10-minute break. You can also make it a practice to just raise your phone to a degree within eye level rather than looking down to check your screen to avoid developing this syndrome.
Feelingless fingers? It might be carpal tunnel syndrome
Similar to the ‘text neck’, prolonged smartphone usage can also lead to aching hands and fingers. But when it gets constant, you shouldn’t just let it be because it might lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. It is a condition that causes pain, tingling and numbing on the fingers, hands, and sometimes even the arms. In previous years and decades, the use of typewriters and computer keyboards was the common culprit for this syndrome, now it's the use of smartphones.
Taking a break is key to avoid developing such a muscle strain. Massaging your hands with essential oils or lotions is also a great way to make sure the blood flow in that area is alright. Lastly, avoiding contact with water, especially right after prolonged phone usage, should be done in order to avoid shocking the tired nerves in your hands and fingers. If not, you might develop permanent muscles spasms that can crawl all throughout your body.
Thinking of calming activities to try to keep you off your phone? We've got some interesting ones here.