With the advent of Smartphone, apps and social media has become an integral part of the life of almost every individual. Be it trains, buses, offices, shops, dinner tables or even while walking down a street, everywhere one looks, people are found busy with their Smartphone, either interacting on social media or using one of the numerous apps. Such extensive addiction, to this new age technology has severe side effects which have been increasingly worrying medical community. In fact, researches conducted in the area have established that excessive use of apps and social media tend to significantly reduce the social skills of individuals and even lead to increase in the level of depression and stress amongst them. Adding to further to these findings is a new report based on a study conducted by the doctors from the Service for Healthy Use of Technology (SHUT) clinic, at the National Institute of Mental Health And Neuro Sciences (Nimhans), in Bangalore.
About The Study
According to the report published in the Indian journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in January 2017, it has been found that compulsive use of apps and social media has been responsible for reducing the sleep duration of individuals by 90 minutes. The study also found the quality of sleep to be above average even though the individuals woke up a minimum of 4 times during their sleep, simply to check their Smartphone. This tendency was found to be increasingly interfering with their normal sleep patterns, which could lead to serious sleep disorders.
Dr. Sharma, who was a part of the research group from SHUT clinic stated that Whatsapp was found to be responsible for keeping as many as 58.5% of the people awake, followed by Facebook users at 32.6%. According to Dr. Sharma, messenger applications other than Whatsapp and hike were used only by only a small percentage of people while gmail users accounted for 45.3%. He also added that 60% of the users relied not only on their mobile phones for accessing apps and social media at home, but also used other devices such as desktops, tablets and laptops as well. He further revealed that as many as 42% of the individuals admitted to neglecting their work just to use internet.
What This Means In Terms Of Health
It has been long established that insufficient sleep and sleep disorders can be a major cause of various health ailments including anxiety and heart diseases. In fact, a study conducted by the doctors at a private hospital in Gurgaon in 2015 revealed lack of enough sleep to be a cause of heart attack in as many as 90% of the young victims. This new age addition has also led to a significant rise in the number of people suffering from “Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS)”.
Victims of DSPS tend to alter their regular 8 hour sleep cycle from 10 om to 6am, drastically by going to bed around 2-3am and sleeping late into the morning or even till noon. This interferes with the normal 9-5 workday of such individuals and often causes them to suffer from issues like fatigue, headache, reduction in appetite and evens severe mood swings. What is even more worry-some is that the tendency is observed not only in adults but young children as well.
According to Dr. Sharma, the best way to avoid the ill effects of addition to social media and app usage is for the users to shut off all gadgets at least an hour before their sleep time. They also need to develop the habit of diverting their focus by spending time in reading or simply interacting with their family and friends so as to cut down internet usage by a significant margin.