After-Hours Emails Ruining Your Sleep?

September 02, 2014

emailBy  Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, CSCS

Almost every person that walks into  our clinic has some sort of sleep  concern; inability to effectively fall asleep, stay asleep, or achieve deep restful sleep. The topic of sleep and recovery is a very rapidly growing area of research at the moment.  A growing epidemic of sleep disorders seems to be happening in conjunction with the rise in prevalence of mobile devices and connectivity. Do these devices really impact your sleep and ability to recover? Let’s see what the latest science is saying.

In a recent article, professor of sociology Dr. Scott Schieman at the University of Toronto discusses the findings of his research on the causes and health consequences of social stress. He starts out by listing  the following statistics;

  • Canadians average less than 7 hours of sleep per night (6.8 hours)
  • Over 20% say they have trouble falling asleep
  • Almost 30% wake up during the night
  • Over one-third report waking up “feeling tired”

Compared to previous generations, sleep quantity and sleep quality are on the decline. What is happening here? A new study in the journal Sleep tells us that cognitive intrusion is to blame. Cognitive intrusions are all the small tasks that require a state of ‘wakefulness’ to accomplish, stimulating your nervous system and inhibiting you from unwinding and sleeping deeply. It seems the #1 culprit is by far “after hours” e-mails. It only takes one email from your boss or unhappy client to trigger stress hormones and negatively impact sleep.

The bottom line is if you sleep poorly, you’ll have poor cognitive function and productivity. If you can’t realistically solve your unhappy client’s or boss’ problems at 11:00pm, be sure to shut off your phone 2-3 hours before bedtime to ensure restful sleep and recovery.

I always instruct my clients to set the stage for deep, restorative sleep by ensuring the bedroom is completely dark, and there is no ambient noise. Black out blinds and ear plugs (I prefer the ‘jelly’ type to the foam ear plugs) are often necessary if you live in the city. Finally, make sure your mobile device is NOT on your nightstand, leave across the room so the WIFI connectivity does not interfere with deep sleep.

Sleep is crucial for recovery and optimal productivity. Try these tips and start sleeping better today!

Dr. Marc Bubbs N.D. has been working with athletes and active people for almost a decade. As a Naturopathic Doctor and Strength and Conditioning Coach, Marc focuses on the integration of health and exercise, believing that movement is the best medicine. He focuses on a holistic approach, using a combination of traditional Eastern and cutting-edge Western medicine to meet his client’s health and performance goals. Marc spent several years working in London, England as a personal trainer and strength coach for business executives and competitive athletes. He currently works as a sports medical consultant at Laylor Performance Systems and Canada Basketball. Dr. Bubbs practices at the Integrative Health Institute in Downtown Toronto.

main image via flickr creative commons. Original available here

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