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Is Social Media Addiction Real?

Is Social Media Addiction Real?

According to a Pew 2015 smartphone report, 93 percent of adults aged 18 to 29 admit to using their smartphone to avoid boredom. 47 percent of smartphone users say they use their smartphones to avoid talking to people around them. Lastly, 46 percent of smartphone users say they could not live without their smartphone. What does this mean for phone users? Does every person with a smartphone run the risk of becoming addicted to their device? Shockingly or not, the answer can be summed up as “no”.

One person’s Twitter is another person’s addiction

Journalist Sarah Kessler’s experience with social media therapy was quite eye opening. With an explosion of “social media sickness” news and talk of how many of us are addicted to our phones, this study brought us back to the point that we are all people who love interaction and social media just happens to be a form of that. The article It shows that while most of us understand that social media has independently invaded almost every aspect of our daily lives, just like any other addiction it really depends on the individual.

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Sure, everyone could benefit from distancing themselves from social media from time to time, but because of work many of us depend on these forums in order to complete our daily tasks. Just because someone is checking social media for work, does not equate to addiction. Comparable to other studies done on the subject of television and video game addiction the results vary largely from one person to another. Now, someone who misses work, loses sleep, and destroys relationships because of one medium or another is a completely different story. Using the word “addiction” for someone who checks their phone multiple times in a day is not a fair assessment.  As the old adage goes, “everything is fine in moderation” for most folks.

Sarah’s social media addiction therapist suggested that social media interaction is just another piece of a whole person. Just the same as someone mentioning a conversation that bothered them to their therapist, patients are now mentioning issues that have occurred on one social media platform or another – “he liked her picture and that bothered me” or “I wasn’t invited to their facebook event”. This doesn’t necessarily mean that someone affected by these social media behaviors is addicted. Additional analysis would be needed to determine if someone can in fact separate themselves, their thoughts and feelings, from social media. In the examples above, as a general statement, those not affected by addiction should be able to relate to that person outside of social media in “real world” context and say “he liked her picture because I know that they are friends” or “maybe they forgot to invite me to their facebook event”. This goes without saying, many people are unable to make these types of connections even before social media is introduced into their lives.

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Addiction is a serious mental illness

For some, social media can absolutely instigate a form of interaction and behavior that is disembodied from their normal social selves. Generalizing that all social media creates bad habits and negative thinking is not accurate and has not been proven. Of course, as with any other type of interaction, people choose to act in positive or negative ways. This may be influenced by the comments or reactions of others within an individual’s social media family, but unsavory behavior for some does not translate to the same type of behavior for all.

None of this is to say that social media addiction is not real, because it is. The thing to understand is that in many cases of addiction other mental illnesses are present that perpetuate one form of addiction or another. Facebook does not cause addiction, mental illness causes addiction. Just as some are able to have one or two drinks in an evening and others must drink more because of their illness. Although it is unjust to compare true substance abuse to television or media, the basic concept is the same. Many things in life can be habit forming.

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Overconsumption, obsession, consequences, and withdrawal are signs of a true addiction. Everyone browses the web now and then, but someone who has little time in the day for any other activities may have a problem. If social media is a constant topic of discussion with others and a need to be on social media envelops a person’s thoughts they might need help. A huge sign of dependency for any addict includes loss of relationships, loss of interest in other hobbies and work, and loss of care that their addiction is ruining their life. Finally, when the person is absent from their addiction they will show signs of withdrawal – irritability, expressing a “need” for the addiction, etc.

A smartphone in the hand of any person does not mean that addiction is imminent. Many other factors work cohesively in order to put together the puzzle that is our mental health. Setting boundaries with any activity is a healthy practice for any person that wants to discourage unhealthy habits from forming.

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Featured photo credit: Pabak Sarkar/Flickr via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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