Most of us have heard of sleep apnea right? The sleeping disorder where you stop breathing throughout the night causing you to have wakeful periods and a restless night’s sleep. (Otherwise known as having small children:)
Well have you heard of Screen apnea (SA)? I’m sure from the name you can guess exactly what it is. The precise definition is a temporary cessation of breath, or shallow breathing whilst using computers, TV’s, phones etc. SA is a modern day phenomenon first realised by Linda Stone, a former Apple director who noticed her own breath pausing whilst she was typing.
After further investigation she surmises that up to 80% of us are plagued by this when using our devices.
When you consider how the world has evolved over the last 2 Covid affected years that is an incredible number of people potentially afflicted.
What’s the problem with shallow breathing?
Over time Dr Russell Greenfield believes that SA can:
· Disrupt your sleep.
· Lower your energy levels
· Interfere with you ability to think quickly and focus.
· Lead to mood disorders like depression or anxiety.
· Increase stress related disease.
“Screen apnea alters your bodies delicate balance of glasses like oxygen, nitric oxide and carbon dioxide.” Says Greenfield. “ This can cause inflammation and interfere with your immune system’s ability to fight infection.” Amongst a host of other things.
What to do about it?
There are a number of strategies you can look at to help solve this issue for you:
1. Diaphragmatically breathing. Shallow breathing is when you use your shoulders to assist getting air in and out of your lungs. The problem with this is it can only get a fraction of the amount of air in. A fully belly breath is much more effective. Place a hand on your belly and chest, from there start your in breath by trying to lift the hand that is on your belly. Then expand 3 dimensionally filling up every crevice in your torso up to your top hand. Repeat.
2. The 20/20/20 rule. This rule states after 20 minutes of screen time you should have 20s rest and look at something 20m away. Moving around can help with blood flow. Looking at something 20m away for 20s allows the eyes to fully relax and engage in a panoramic way with the world. Rather than the rather myopic perception of the world created by staring at a screen.
3. Move! Stretch, have walking meetings, practice yoga or maybe just walk around the room. Recent advice suggests sitting for 5 or more hours a day in a row can be as damaging as smoking. Not only that but this is the case even if you exercise for an hour in the morning. We are just not designed to sit still for long period of time. Doing so in the past would of increased the likelihood of us being found by a predator or not foraging successfully for food. Set a timer, find an accountability buddy, do anything you can to consistently move throughout the day.
The irony of me writing on the computer for a couple of hours to tell you all this is not lost on me. But this is the world we live in now and hopefully this helps you navigate it whilst maintaining your health.
5 Quick Takeaways’
Quote: “Over time, people regret what they didn’t do more than what they did do. Regrets of inaction are far more common than regrets of action.” – Dan Pink
Quick Exercise tip: Any ground based exercise is taxing on the wrists. Here is some wrist prep exercises for you. Video below
Quick Mind tip: Start a gratitude journal. Write down 3 things you are grateful for every morning. Contemplate your choices for a few minutes afterwards.
Quick Health tip: Eat your cruciferous veggies. The cruciferous family of veggies (dark leafy greens) are by far the most nutrient dense. Aim for 2-3 portions of these per day.
Good for your soul: With your gratitude journal also write down 1 lesson you have learnt. Growth is good for the soul.
This blog is courtesy of Melbourne based PT – Duncan McDaide
Original work: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bryanrobinson/2020/11/14/is-your-computer-screen-stealing-your-breath-6-tips-to-avoid-screen-apnea/?sh=37cbd68f7237