What Is A Digital Detox And Why Do You Need One?

There is no denying we are a tech obsessed world.

Instagram and Netflix have become universally known terms and no one bats an eyelid when a toddler has their very own iPad. The growth in popularity and accessibility of technological devices means the ability to switch off and shut down is almost non-existent. With the power of technology creating the ability to work from just about anywhere, the lines between work and home can often be blurred. I get it, I too am often guilty of always wanting to be in the loop. No-one wants to get behind in their work or miss out on the latest gossip, but too much screen time could be having more of a negative impact on your health than you think.

We all love and need a good night’s shut-eye (something few and far between at the Wood household these days, thanks Willow!) and quality sleep can have significant effect on our overall wellbeing. Unfortunately, the power of technology means sleep is often sacrificed in favour of the screen (i.e. binge watching Stranger Things).

But did you know that getting an average of 7.5 hours of sleep per night can actually help with weight loss as it helps to regulate your hormones? That’s because when we’ve caught enough zzz’s, our body produces the right balance of ghrelin (the hormone that tells us when to eat) and leptin (the hormone that tells us when to stop). That means that when you’re sleep deprived, you’ll produce too much ghrelin and not enough leptin. Hello weight gain and being seriously grumpy.

When it comes to stress, excess technology can definitely play a part. Late night emails, after-hours phone calls, endless scrolling through social media… all of these things can have you feeling tired, emotional and overwhelmed. That’s why I like to have a digital detox at least once a day to help me sleep better, communicate better and most importantly, be present.

If the thought of going phone-free freaks you out, here are five simple tips to help you have a digital detox.

1. No screen time 30-60 minutes before bed

Exposure to blue lights, the lights of digital screens, sends a message to your brain that interferes with melatonin production (a chemical needed for sleep). start with 10 minutes of screen-free time and build from there. Don’t worry, those notifications will still be there when you wake up!.

2. Make sure there are no screens plugged in within a metre of your pillow

Take away the temptation of looking at your phone in the middle of the night or binge-watching your favourite Netflix series by keeping your devices out of reach. An added bonus of doing this is you’ll have to actually get out of bed to switch off your alarm in the morning. Perfect if you’re one of those people who snoozes their alarm when you should be at spin.

3. No phones at the dinner table

This is a huge one, especially in my house .As someone with a 12 year old, I know how hard it can be to get your kids to look up from their phone and talk about their day. Make it a family rule that dinner time is family time, with no phones allowed at the table… and lead by example.

4. Get outdoors without your phone

One day of the week I like to go for a 30 minute walk with Hendrix, without my phone. Of course don’t do this alone late at night, but you might genuinely be surprised by all the things you notice when you’re not

5. Turn off push notifications and alerts

There have been many occasions where I’ve put my phone away only to be checking my Apple Watch nonstop as the notifications keep rolling in. Turning off push notifications and alerts mean that you’ll have to go into your phone to stay up to date with emails and messages. I like to turn off most of my notifications so that only the crucial info is coming through as I go about my day.

So there you have it, some simple strategies to help you switch off and chill out.

Sam Wood is the founder of online training and nutrition program 28 by Sam Wood and Australia’s largest personal training gym ‘The Woodshed’. 

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