This Is What Happens to Your Body When You're on Your Phone Too Much
New science reveals a smartphone addiction is much like a chemical one.
You don't need me to tell you how Americans are addicted to their phones. Just look around you: wherever you are right this second, chances are there's someone in full view who is staring directly into his or her phone as if in a trance—checking sports scores, reading the news, playing video games, or streaming Black Panther. It all makes you wonder if having an infinite supply of anti-boredom technology in your pocket comes with consequences. And drumroll… It does.
If you're not careful, you might find yourself becoming too reliant on your device, developing a smartphone attachment that, akin to a dependence on illicit substances, can take a serious toll on your health and wellbeing. Before that happens, read up on the ways that your body suffers when you start spending a little too much time with your device. And if you're already too attached, then try these 11 Easy Ways to Conquer Your Smartphone Addiction.
You become more depressed.
When you devote hours per day to your smartphone, it's not just your relationships that suffer the consequences. When researchers from Korea University in Seoul studied 19 young individuals diagnosed with a phone addiction, they found that a higher score on the addiction scale was associated with a higher level of depression.
You lose energy.
In the same South Korean study, the researchers also found that the smartphone-addicted subjects had higher levels of gamma aminobutyric acid, or GABA, in their brains, which can contribute to everything from anxiety to drowsiness. And if you're constantly fighting off fatigue, then try these 17 Sleep Products People Swear By.
Your sleep is less restorative.
If you find yourself tossing and turning awake every night, then your smartphone addiction could be the source of the issue. One study published in PLoS ONE found that the more time a person spent on their phone—especially before bed—the worse their quality of sleep was.
Your vision becomes impaired.
Electronic devices like your smartphone emit blue light, which has a short wavelength and thus more energy compared to other colors on the spectrum. The problem? Researchers from the University of Toledo found that this blue light transforms important molecules, called retinals, in the eye into detrimental "cell killers."
"We are being exposed to blue light continuously, and the eye's cornea and lens cannot block or reflect it," study author Dr. Ajith Karunarathne said in a press release. "You need a continuous supply of retinal molecules if you want to see."
Your neck tenses up.
You haven't done anything but sit on the couch and scroll through Instagram on your phone all day, so how is it possible that your neck muscles are so sore? Surprisingly enough, one study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science found that using your phone, especially with one hand, causes "increased upper extremity muscle activity," particularly in the neck and shoulders region.
You get more headaches.
Your cell phone dependence is, both literally and metaphorically, a headache. Research published in the journal Scientific Reports determined that, on average, mobile phone users are 38 percent more likely to get a headache compared to those who are device-free. Though scientists aren't entirely sure as to why this is the case, their theory is that the electromagnetic energy from cell phones affects the dopamine-opiate system involved in getting headaches.
You're more likely to get sick.
Even if you're extra careful about washing your hands several times a day, you're still at risk of getting sick thanks to your phone. One study published in the journal Annals of Clinical Microbiology found that, based on their test sample of 200 smartphones, a staggering 94.5 percent of devices were contaminated with strains of bacteria.
If you are going to use your cellphone constantly, make sure to clean your screen on a weekly basis. And if you're looking for more ways to unplug, try these 20 Genius Ways to Kill Time without a Smartphone.
You're more susceptible to car crashes.
People who claim that they can effectively talk on the phone while driving are just lying to themselves. Just look at the facts: According to researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, your brain waves are altered when you're on the phone, and so much as listening to a conversation while on the road can make you act as if you're drunk, reducing the amount of brain activity in the parietal lobe (which controls driving) by 37 percent.
You feel vibrations that aren't there.
Many folks with a smartphone addiction will experience "phantom vibrations," or perceived phone vibrations when their device is not even around. Basically, when you use your phone too often, it becomes like an appendage.
And similar to amputees who experience phantom limb, the somatosensory cortex in the brain (which processes touch) will create new nerve connections when your phone is MIA, sending signals to the brain that your phone is vibrating even though it's sitting on the counter at home.
Your thumbs get numb.
Though phones were originally invented for vocal communication, they are now used in a myriad of different ways, many of which involve use of your fingers rather than your vocal chords. And because cell phone use requires so much finger movement, doctors have seen an influx of patients with finger injuries, ranging from mild blisters to severe tendon trauma.
"I've seen a significant increase in the number of people with pain in their tendon regions in their thumbs and their fingers," Dr. Richard Brown, an orthopedic hand surgeon at the Scripps memorial Hospital, told ABC News. "I have to send some of them to the therapist or start them on medicine or put them in splints or sometimes even operate."
You gain weight.
The blue light emitted from your phone makes you more insulin resistant. The issue with this is that insulin is responsible for converting glucose into energy, and without insulin your body will store glucose for fat instead of burning it for fuel. And if you're looking for some grade-A slim-down advice, start with these 50 Genius Weight-Loss Tricks for Fall.
Your memory becomes weaker.
According to one study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, the radio frequency electromagnetic fields emitted from cellular devices when making a phone call have a detrimental impact on memory capacity. And if you want to keep your brain sharp as a tack, try these 20 Simple Ways to Improve Your Memory.
Your stress levels rise.
If you already know yourself to be an anxious person, then your frequent cell phone use is definitely doing you more harm than good. One study of more than 4,000 individuals from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found that increased phone use was linked to higher stress levels in men and women alike. And in addition to limiting your cell phone use, try curbing your stress levels with these 12 Genius Tricks for Turning Anxiety into Excitement.
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