How to Stay Healthy Using Your Phone

It’s undeniable. Mobile phones have become one of the fundamental means of communication in modern life. 

However, just because mobile phones provide an efficient and easy way to stay connected to friends, family, and colleagues, it doesn't make them safe out of the box. An increasing body of research finds that using them incorrectly or at the wrong time can take a toll on your health. 

But–how so? Hint: it has nothing to do with the transmission of radiofrequency energy.

1) Blue Light Disrupts Sleep Patterns

If you’re like most people, you’re likely to use your mobile phone before bed–no matter if you’re scrolling through social media, shooting a quick work email, or keeping up with the news.

But you really shouldn’t.

That’s because the light from your mobile phone is ‘short-wavelength-enriched.’ 

Meaning that it has a higher concentration of blue light than natural light–and blue light seems to be the most disruptive for natural sleep-wake cycles (1, 2).

A little background: at night-time, your pineal gland secretes the hormone melatonin, which signals to your body that it’s time to sleep. And it is the production of this exact hormone (melatonin) that blue light–from your mobile phone usage–impedes (3, 4). 

Thus, reducing both the quality and quantity of your sleep; especially when you use your mobile phone right before turning in for the night.  

More worrying, perhaps, is the fact that multiple studies have linked melatonin suppression in the evening to various chronic health problems, including metabolic syndrome, obesity, cancer, and even depression (5, 6,7, 8). 

Of course, the easy solution would be to avoid using your mobile phone for an hour or so before bed. But if that's not possible for you or you need a little more time to adjust, then there's an easier solution buried in the settings that can reduce the blue light emission.

Here’s how: Adjust your screen brightness to the lowest setting that lets you still see the screen.

  • Android phonesSettings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift
  • iPhonesSettings > Display & Brightness > Adjust the brightness

2) Keeping up with Constant Notifications is Anxiety-inducing

Everything on your mobile phone has an alert. A message, a call, an email, a tweet–the list goes on and on. With a constant influx of information calling out for your attention, it can put pressure on you at all times to stay informed. 

Emerging research suggests that greater mobile phone usage is associated with a greater rise of cortisol–the body’s main stress hormone (9, 10, 11). 

Cortisol is your body’s primary fight-or-flight hormone; its release triggers numerous physiological changes, such as spikes in blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar, meant to help you react to and survive acute physical threats (12). 

These effects can be lifesaving if you’re actually in physical danger, but when you’re suddenly interrupted about a breaking news story somewhere in the world or reading a strongly-worded email from your colleague. Your cortisol levels can react without you even realising which isn’t going to serve you in any way, especially if you're trying to eat a meal or relax. 

Over time, the constant checking of your phone can lead to chronically elevated cortisol levels. 

Worryingly, that has, in turn, been tied to an increased risk of serious health problems, including depression, obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, fertility issues, high blood pressure, and stroke (13, 14, 15). 

The good news is that you have the ability to break out of this chronically-stressed state. 

How? By choosing to turn off all notifications except for those you actually want to receive. And more importantly, by consciously making the effort to take time away from your mobile phone. Put it away when you’re having a meal for example.

So much of social media use is habit, so just by becoming aware of it, you can start to take control and set boundaries for when you're going to check your phone and how much time you're going to allow yourself to spend.

3) Avoiding Text Neck 

Chances are, you’re reading this on your phone, with your head hung forward and down. And that’s really problematic. Without proper form, prolonged mobile phone use can cause a slew of issues–starting with a painful neck. 

There’s even a term for this: ‘Text Neck.’ 

While it isn’t an official medical term, it generally refers to neck pain and associated discomfort that comes from frequently keeping your head and neck at a strange angle to use your phone. 

Why is text neck problematic?

To understand how the discomfort arises, you first need to know that the muscles in your neck work to support the weight of your head, which typically clocks in around 5kg. 

Your neck muscles are not large, but they’re able to support that amount of weight perfectly–if the neck is in good alignment. All of that changes however when you tip your head forward to peer down at your phone for prolonged periods. 

Every degree of tilt translates into extra pressure on your neck and the small joints that allow it to move. In fact, even a slight tilt forward of 15 degrees increases the weight to 14kg (triple its normal weight)!

When you’re looking down at your phone, your neck has to deal with up to 27kg of pressure!

Just a quick disclaimer here: I’m not anti-technology! I love being able to respond to texts and emails on-the-go to stay connected 24/7. But it’s worrying when technology comes at a cost to our health.

Case in point: text neck can lead to the inflammation of the neck muscles, ligaments and nerves, permanent arthritic damage, as well as curvature in the spine as other areas are forced to compensate!

How to Prevent Text Neck

Thankfully, it’s possible to reverse text neck by adopting proper posture when using your mobile phone. Here’s how: 

1. Keep your elbows by your side and your back straight. 

2. Hold the device as close as you can get to eye level without moving your elbows from your side. 

3. From here you should be able to look down with your eyes without moving your head. 

4. If this is not high enough for you, put one arm across your stomach and use it to rest the other elbow on to elevate it higher. The reason for this is you don’t want to be activating the muscles in your arm to hold it out in front of you for a prolonged period of time either as this can also cause postural problems and muscle fatigue.

The bottom line: excessive use of your mobile phone can lead to some pretty serious health consequences.

Safeguard your health by setting some boundaries between you and your phone!

It’s undeniable. Mobile phones have become one of the fundamental means of communication in modern life. 

However, just because mobile phones provide an efficient and easy way to stay connected to friends, family, and colleagues, it doesn’t make them safe out of the box. An increasing body of research finds that using them incorrectly or at the wrong time can take a toll on your health. 

But–how so? Hint: it has nothing to do with the transmission of radiofrequency energy.

1) Blue Light Disrupts Sleep Patterns

If you’re like most people, you’re likely to use your mobile phone before bed–no matter if you’re scrolling through social media, shooting a quick work email, or keeping up with the news.

But you really shouldn’t.

That’s because the light from your mobile phone is ‘short-wavelength-enriched.’ 

Meaning that it has a higher concentration of blue light than natural light–and blue light seems to be the most disruptive for natural sleep-wake cycles (1, 2).

A little background: at night-time, your pineal gland secretes the hormone melatonin, which signals to your body that it’s time to sleep. And it is the production of this exact hormone (melatonin) that blue light–from your mobile phone usage–impedes (3, 4). 

Thus, reducing both the quality and quantity of your sleep; especially when you use your mobile phone right before turning in for the night.  

More worrying, perhaps, is the fact that multiple studies have linked melatonin suppression in the evening to various chronic health problems, including metabolic syndrome, obesity, cancer, and even depression (5, 6,7, 8). 

Of course, the easy solution would be to avoid using your mobile phone for an hour or so before bed. But if that’s not possible for you or you need a little more time to adjust, then there’s an easier solution buried in the settings that can reduce the blue light emission.

Here’s how: Adjust your screen brightness to the lowest setting that lets you still see the screen.

  • Android phonesSettings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift
  • iPhonesSettings > Display & Brightness > Adjust the brightness

2) Keeping up with Constant Notifications is Anxiety-inducing

Everything on your mobile phone has an alert. A message, a call, an email, a tweet–the list goes on and on. With a constant influx of information calling out for your attention, it can put pressure on you at all times to stay informed. 

Emerging research suggests that greater mobile phone usage is associated with a greater rise of cortisol–the body’s main stress hormone (9, 10, 11). 

Cortisol is your body’s primary fight-or-flight hormone; its release triggers numerous physiological changes, such as spikes in blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar, meant to help you react to and survive acute physical threats (12). 

These effects can be lifesaving if you’re actually in physical danger, but when you’re suddenly interrupted about a breaking news story somewhere in the world or reading a strongly-worded email from your colleague. Your cortisol levels can react without you even realising which isn’t going to serve you in any way, especially if you’re trying to eat a meal or relax. 

Over time, the constant checking of your phone can lead to chronically elevated cortisol levels. 

Worryingly, that has, in turn, been tied to an increased risk of serious health problems, including depression, obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, fertility issues, high blood pressure, and stroke (13, 14, 15). 

The good news is that you have the ability to break out of this chronically-stressed state. 

How? By choosing to turn off all notifications except for those you actually want to receive. And more importantly, by consciously making the effort to take time away from your mobile phone. Put it away when you’re having a meal for example.

So much of social media use is habit, so just by becoming aware of it, you can start to take control and set boundaries for when you’re going to check your phone and how much time you’re going to allow yourself to spend.

3) Avoiding Text Neck 

Chances are, you’re reading this on your phone, with your head hung forward and down. And that’s really problematic. Without proper form, prolonged mobile phone use can cause a slew of issues–starting with a painful neck. 

There’s even a term for this: ‘Text Neck.’ 

While it isn’t an official medical term, it generally refers to neck pain and associated discomfort that comes from frequently keeping your head and neck at a strange angle to use your phone. 

Why is text neck problematic?

To understand how the discomfort arises, you first need to know that the muscles in your neck work to support the weight of your head, which typically clocks in around 5kg. 

Your neck muscles are not large, but they’re able to support that amount of weight perfectly–if the neck is in good alignment. All of that changes however when you tip your head forward to peer down at your phone for prolonged periods. 

Every degree of tilt translates into extra pressure on your neck and the small joints that allow it to move. In fact, even a slight tilt forward of 15 degrees increases the weight to 14kg (triple its normal weight)!

When you’re looking down at your phone, your neck has to deal with up to 27kg of pressure!

Just a quick disclaimer here: I’m not anti-technology! I love being able to respond to texts and emails on-the-go to stay connected 24/7. But it’s worrying when technology comes at a cost to our health.

Case in point: text neck can lead to the inflammation of the neck muscles, ligaments and nerves, permanent arthritic damage, as well as curvature in the spine as other areas are forced to compensate!

How to Prevent Text Neck

Thankfully, it’s possible to reverse text neck by adopting proper posture when using your mobile phone. Here’s how: 

1. Keep your elbows by your side and your back straight. 

2. Hold the device as close as you can get to eye level without moving your elbows from your side. 

3. From here you should be able to look down with your eyes without moving your head. 

4. If this is not high enough for you, put one arm across your stomach and use it to rest the other elbow on to elevate it higher. The reason for this is you don’t want to be activating the muscles in your arm to hold it out in front of you for a prolonged period of time either as this can also cause postural problems and muscle fatigue.

The bottom line: excessive use of your mobile phone can lead to some pretty serious health consequences.

Safeguard your health by setting some boundaries between you and your phone!