West Valley Medical Center - February 05, 2015

Technology can be a wonderful thing. Video chatting with family or friends halfway across the world has never been easier. Sending electronic messages wirelessly to anyone anywhere is a snap.

You can even order all your household supplies online and have them delivered to your door tomorrow.

But with the good also comes the bad.

Having the world and social media at the palm of your hands 24/7 has cut into sleep, outdoor activity, and connecting with people in real life all key ingredients for health and wellbeing.

You're Losing Sleep

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommends getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night for adults.

Not getting enough sleep can lead to:

  • weight gain
  • depression
  • increased stress
  • higher risk for chronic disease
  • impaired judgement
  • death

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Our gadgets and the temptation to spend hours on Facebook, checking email one last time, or watching cat videos on YouTube can cut into precious sleep time.

26% of parents and 16% of kis confess to checking emails and texts after going to bed. Source: National Sleep Foundation 2014 Sleep in America poll

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) suggests these tips to get better sleep.

  1. Power down early. The light from screens can be activating to the brain. So turn your gadgets off an hour before bed.
  2. Start a relaxing wind down routine. Read a book, spend time journaling, or meditating. You'll be better able to unwind and get a restful night's sleep.
  3. Change your settings. If you can't turn the gadgets off completely, at least put them on silent or airplane mode. This way your sleep won't be interrupted by beeps, chirps, and blinking lights.
  4. Keep technology out of the bedroom. If having your tablet, smartphone and e-reader close by is too tempting, especially in the evenings, put them in a different room before going to bed.

Your Posture is Suffering

Text neck or forward head posture is when thehead, neck and shoulders are overused from leaning forward and looking down at phones, laptops and tablets, according to the Text Neck Institute.

This type of poor posture can cause headaches and pain in the neck, shoulders and arms. Instead of slumping over, bring your gadget to eye level. Hold your smartphone up or lower your seat in front of your laptop.

Exercises that strengthen the neck and increase range of motion can counter text neck, according to the North American Spine Society. This could include neck rotations: When you're in a neutral position, slowly turn your head as far left as you can for 5 seconds, then right for 5 seconds.

You're Not Getting Enough Physical Activity

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting 150 minutes a week of moderately intense exercise and spending two or more days on strength training for all muscles.

But time spent on a gadget leaves less time for exercise.

13.6 hours: average time per person per day spent consuming media in 2012. Source: Institute for Communication Technology Management (CTM), October 2013

If you take the NSF's recommendation of getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night, you're only awake 15-17 hours a day. So spending close to 14 hours a day on your gadget is a lot of time.

Instead of watching your favorite sport, go out and play. Besides, you can always check email and Facebook on the treadmill.