The internet is a great invention. There is literally nothing that you can’t find out via the world wide web in a matter of seconds and I quite like the fact that I can do my shopping online while wearing my rollers and tea-stained nightie. This means that I don’t have to put myself through the sensory nightmare of crowded supermarkets. I also like how I can keep in touch with people without having to physically write because I HATE writing. However, there is a downside to the internet and that is INFORMATION OVERLOAD.
The accurate term is ‘Cognitive Overload’.
Our brains are designed to take in lots of information but it seems that technology is moving way too fast for our brains to keep up. Cognitive overload can lead to stress and for sensitive people, like myself, it can make you PROPER CRANKY.
Wandering around a bookstore the other week, yes ACTUAL BOOKS, I was amazed (not) at how many relaxation/meditation books there are now with authors urging us to ‘unplug’ and simplify our lives. I came away with a book called, ‘Unplugged’. I was attracted to it because I was overwhelmed. After a four month hiatus from debilitating anxiety, I was hurtling towards burnout stage faster than a seagull after a Harry Ramsden chip on Blackpool pier..
One night I sat up in bed watching the hours crawl by (AGAIN) and I told myself that I would do whatever it took to get myself back to generally insanity, as opposed to ‘AM LOSING IT, DOC’ – insanity.
I realised that the internet is both friend and foe and that my use of technology was taking up the majority of my day, in one form or another. The first thing I did was to put an ‘out of office’ message on my Twitter. I normally just disappear for a few weeks but this time I felt obliged to inform the world of my absence. I suspect many may be praying that I don’t return ha ha.
The thing about Twitter is the volume of information in one hit. It’s a real emotional roller-coaster. On top of this emotional baggery is the news of the day – fires, terrorism, deaths, politics and Trump being a dick. It is an PHENOMENAL amount of information. The brain then has to trawl it’s way through the quagmire of info and somehow make sense of it. Is it any wonder that my dreams have been psychotic, if the last thing at night I am reading is this lot?
I’ve adjusted the brightness on my phone and enabled the night-setting. On my Kindle, I have changed my font to white on a black background which is easier on the eyes. I also make sure that I don’t have my phone by my bedside at night. If it’s there, it’s too easy to open it up and check in with the world because I will be gutted if I miss that Instagram pic of somebody’s ingrowing toenail, eh?
There is also evidence to suggest that Wifi signals emitted from phones and gadgets next to your bed can interfere with your quality of sleep, so if you are sleeping poorly and you charge your gadgets next to your bed, or worse, sleep with them under your pillow – it might be an idea to remove them from your room and see if your sleep improves? Why people sleep with their phones under their pillows is beyond me. Vibrating phones in pockets, I get. But pillows? No.
Its not the technology itself that is making me ill, well, maybe it is when it comes to migraines. It’s more to do with the amount of exposure I am getting and that choice is mine. Nobody forces me to check Twitter or look at pictures of somebody’s pie and chips on Instagram. It’s me.
I knew the amount of information I exposed myself to was hurting me. I was incredibly stressed out and needed to do something before I got back into breakdown territory. I couldn’t go back there again. NO FLIPPING WAY, HOSE!
So, I experimented..
The Experiment: To See If Using Electronics Less Improves Stress and Sleep
Kindle – 2 and 1/2 hours
Internet – 1/2 hour (e mails)
Instagram – 1 hour
Total = 4 hours
Sleep – 1am until 6am.
Reason I was so late was because ah wes watchin Catherine Cookson on telly an ‘ah forgot abyeut the time. It turk us an hoor tuh git tur sleep, pet.
Quality of was sleep improved.
Dreams not exactly sweet but nowhere near as funky.
Internet (e mails & blog) 1 hour 5 mins
Kindle (three hours)
Instagram 30 mins
Total = 4 hours 35 mins
Sleep -10pm until 7am
Woke up a few times in-between but not enough for it to be a problem. Dreams improved.
Internet (e mails & blog) 30 mins
Kindle – 4 hours
Instagram 30 mins
Sleep – 12am- 7.30am
I struggled to get off to sleep, probably because I’d watched another strife ridden Cathy Cookson before bed. I tossed about for a couple of hours but once asleep I pretty much stayed asleep. I had one of my reoccurring dreams where I buy the house where I was born, only it’s a lot bigger than it actually was/is. Also, it’s part house/part social club where you access the magical world of darts, pool and beer via the loft? No. I have no idea where it’s come from either. A pleasant addition to this particular version of the dream was that my parents were in it. My DEAD parents. Only, Dad was telling me I would have to get rid of some of my books.
That one is easy enough to decipher because we need a new book case as I have too many books! Actually, what am I saying? You can NEVER have too many books!
Internet (e mails & blog) 30 mins
Kindle 4 hours
Instagram 15 mins
Sleep – 11pm until 7am.
I had a few dodgy dreams but the one thing I did differently was to read my Kindle until 9.30 pm. *slaps wrist*
Internet (e mails, blog) 1 hour
Kindle 4 hours
Instagram 10 mins
Sleep = 10pm – 6.45 am
Dreams were NON ANXIETY and representative of what I had done that day.
Went on electronics for hours on end to see if it was, like, a placebo effect.
I was wired all day and struggled to sleep at night. Stephen King was writing my dreams again and I awake from 5am on Sunday morning feeling like I’d been steam-rollered.
The evidence strongly suggests that my use of technology IS affecting my anxiety, sleep and general well-being and by making a few teensy adjustments I have improved things significantly and I have to admit that I feel better for it.
When it comes to dreams, my brain was starting to decipher actual things in my life instead of random rubbish via the internet and because I was getting more restful sleep, my body was feeling more refreshed on waking. I may not been Julie Andrews first thing but I wasn’t the total Mumzilla, either. I had more energy and my short-term memory was less shit. It was by no means a cure but it was a good enough improvement for me to consider spending less time on electronics for the foreseeable.
If you spend a lot of time on computers and stuff and are struggling with anxiety or sleep, maybe it’s time you unplugged?
Disconnect from technology to reconnect with yourself.