Posted on by Amber Merton

woman on her cell phone and laptop

National Day of Unplugging (NDU) is coming up on its 11th year Unplugged Events series that will be held Friday, March 6 through Saturday, March 7, 2020 from sundown-to-sundown. Over the past 10 years, the goal of NDU is to educate individuals about slowing down in a hectic world, and avoiding missing important moments in our lives because we’re buried in our technology.

About NDU

The NDU movement is a 24 hour worldwide "break" from technology. This movement highlights how valuable disconnecting from your digital devices is, so you can connect with yourself, your loved ones, and your community in real-time.

Back in 2009, when NDU began, there was very little clinical and academic research conducted about smartphones' long-term effect on mental health. Realizing there was a need to become more aware of what could become a bigger issue, Reboot, the Jewish arts and culture non-profit organization, launched the Sabbath Manifesto. This was a project made with the intent to slow down lives in a growingly chaotic world. It was then the program evolved into NDU.

Technology, while extremely helpful, convenient, and makes communication simpler as a worldwide community, is also potentially troubling, and feeds into addictive behaviors that frequently take the place of human interaction.

In fact, worldwide, we've reached 3.5 billion smartphone users. According to recent research, the average smartphone user swipes, taps and clicks their phone each day around 2617 times, typically starting as soon as they wake up in the morning.

The biggest advantages individuals find after they unplug are they realize how often they've had their faces constantly buried in their phones, and have been missing out on many things. They realize when they unplug, they can:

  • Connect with others around them better
  • Make new friends
  • Relax and focus on things

The average adult in the U.S. spends approximately 11 hours every day watching, listening to, interacting with, and reading media, according to research from the Nielsen Company.

Problems Technology Can Have on Sleep

Did you know technology can negatively impact your sleep?

The use of electronics and artificial lighting at night might contribute to sleep issues. Electronics emit blue wavelength light that could trick your brain into believing it's daytime.

Several studies show blue light in the evening disturbs the natural sleep-wake cycles of your brain, which are critical for optimal health.

What is Blue Light?

Not every color of light has the same impact. Blue wavelengths are beneficial in the daylight hours because they increase:

  • Reaction times
  • Attention
  • Mood

However, they are disruptive during the nighttime. And, the growth of electronics with screens, and the energy-efficient lighting, is growing our blue wavelength exposure, particularly after sundown.

How Blue Light Disrupts Your Sleep

You have an internal clock in your brain that regulates your circadian rhythm. This is a round-the-clock biological cycle that has influence over various internal functions.  It determines when the body is ready to be awake or asleep. But, your circadian rhythm requires external environment signals, most essentially darkness and daylight, to adjust itself.

Blue wavelength light mainly stimulates your eye sensors to send signals to the internal clock of your brain.

Electronic devices, particularly computer monitors and modern light bulbs also produce large amounts of blue light, and might interrupt your internal clock with evening exposure. When it becomes dark, the hormone melatonin is secreted by your pineal gland, telling your body to become tired, and fall asleep.

Blue light, whether it's from a laptop or the sun, is very efficient at hindering melatonin production, thereby decreasing both the quality and quantity of your sleep. Research links evening melatonin suppression to a number of health issues, including:

  • Cancer
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Metabolic syndrome

Even dim light can disrupt your melatonin secretion and circadian rhythm. An eight lux (a brightness level) many table lamps exceed, and about twice of a night light's has an impact, according to Harvard sleep researcher, Stephen Lockley. Light during the nighttime is part of the reason a lot of individuals don't obtain enough sleep, and not enough sleep has been linked to diabetes, depression, and cardiovascular problems.

Reasons to Unplug

There are many reasons why you should do a "digital detox." A digital detox is a period of time where you refrain from using any types of technology, including:

  • Televisions
  • Smartphones
  • Tablets
  • Computers
  • Social media sites

Detoxing from digital technology like this is frequently seen as a way of focusing on your real-life social interactions, without being distracted. When you forego digital devices, at least for a brief period, you can let go of your stress that comes from continuous connectivity.

There are various reasons why you may wish to give up your smartphone or other digital device for a short time.

1. Enjoy Time By Yourself

You may want to take some time for yourself without distractions your phone and other devices will create. Or, you may feel your device use is becoming excessive and adding to your stress.

2. Avoid Device Addiction

In some cases, you may feel like you're becoming addicted to your technology. Although technology addiction isn't formally recognized as being a disorder, many professionals believe technology and device overuse can represent a real behavioral addiction that could result in psychological, physical, and social issues.

The organization Common Sense Media conducted a poll showing 50% of teenagers say they felt like they were indeed addicted to their smartphones. And, 78% of the teenager respondents admitted to checking their devices hourly.

3. Affects Work/Life Balance

It can be hard to create boundaries between work life and home life when you know you're always connected. Even when you're at home or away on vacation, it can be difficult to resist things like:

  • Checking your email
  • Checking your social media accounts
  • Responding to a colleague's text

Going through a digital detox could help you establish a less stressful, healthier work-life balance.

Now, with National Unplugging Day being right around the corner, it's a great opportunity to unplug and take a break from your electronic devices. Also, spread the word by posting the hashtag #NationalDayOfUnplugging on your social media profile.

So for 24 hours, consider saying no to social media, texting, phone calls, and email. Instead, say YES to real life!

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