Look on the bright side: five ways load-shedding can be good for you

Being forced to unplug and take a break from technology during power outages may improve your health in a number of ways

22 March 2019 - 10:22 By Sanet Oberholzer
Switching off from technology can help you sleep better.
Switching off from technology can help you sleep better.
Image: 123RF/rawpixel

Despite the many hassles that come with load-shedding, there may be a few positive health benefits to unplugging and shutting down our devices for a few hours every day.

Whether there's no power to your TV or your smartphone has died, taking a break from technology can benefit your health in a number of ways:

1. Better sleep

Switching off from technology could help you sleep better and for longer. According to America's National Sleep Foundation, devices may disrupt our sleep for a number of reasons:  

  • the blue light emitted from our cellphones, tablets and TVs hinders the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleeping patterns;
  • watching TV or using your phone can make it difficult for your brain to switch off, making it harder for you to fall asleep; and
  • notifications from your electronic devices can wake you up once you've managed to fall asleep.

2. Less risk of "tech neck"

"Tech neck" is caused by the strain we place on our necks when we bend our heads over to read our computer screens or to look at our phones. The further forward you bend your head, the heavier it becomes for your body to support. This can lead to neck and shoulder pain, headaches and strained muscles. 

3. Improved concentration and memory

Researchers at the University of Maryland in the US challenged 200 students to unplug and give up all media for 24 hours. The students reported faring better in their coursework, being able to study better and getting better grades because they were more focused and less distracted by their phones - not only during class or study time but in general.

Unplugging will not only help you focus and improve your memory, it will also allow you to spend more time doing activities that stimulate your brain, such as reading or spending time on an interesting hobby.

4. Less stress

Our over-reliance on technology is increasingly being linked to an increase in stress. A study posted in Science Direct outlined how technology and media use has an impact on stress levels in adolescents.

Notifications, e-mails, phone calls – all the features of our smartphones, tablets and computers – are constantly vying for our attention. To add to this, technology has introduced a culture of instant results, adding to the urgency of our responses. The ease of doing work using these devices is resulting in us doing more work and, compounded by a lack of sleep, may result in a build-up of stress over time.

Look at load-shedding as an enforced digital detox and spend the time engaging in stress-busting activities such as meditation, exercise or spending time with someone who makes you laugh.

5. You'll give your eyes a much-needed break

It should come as no surprise that looking at computer screens and gadgets can harm your eyes. Not only do we place strain on our eyes, weakening them over time, focusing on computer screens can cause dry eye and headaches from straining our eye muscles.

Apart from taking regular breaks while working to focus your eyes on objects in the distance, your eyes will surely thank you for taking a prolonged break from computer screens during the day.