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TMCNet:  Technology a distraction for healthy sleeping habits

[December 10, 2012]

Technology a distraction for healthy sleeping habits

Dec 10, 2012 (Republican & Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Erika Rodriguez can't imagine life without her iPhone.

"It's a pretty serious relationship," the 21-year-old junior at Penn State Schuylkill said Nov. 30 at the Hidden Stream Cafe on campus.

It's so serious that sometimes the criminal justice major said she falls asleep while using it, then she wakes up and goes right back to enjoying hours of unlimited calls, texts and data.

However, as fun and stimulating as it can be, a local doctor has a warning for the telecommunications-saturated world.

"I think if it is allowed to disrupt your usual sleep pattern then it's a problem," Dr. Joseph Cable of the Schuylkill Medical Center Sleep Disorders Center said.

The amount of sleep people need varies with each person. Typically, 7 1/2 to 8 1/2 hours is necessary for good health, he said. Going to sleep and waking up about the same time each day should be practiced. With iPhones and activities like Internet surfing, hours can be gone before the person knows it and sleep can suffer as a result, he said.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, a nonprofit that deals with sleep-related issues, Americans have a hard time falling asleep. A 2011 poll found that 43 percent of those ages 13 to 64 reported trouble sleeping.

"This poll explores the association between Americans' use of technologies and sleep habits," David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation, said.

Data from 1,508 people between the ages of 13 and 64 found that 95 percent of those surveyed used electronics before bed time.

Cable said technology has its place and isn't all bad.

"We're not saying don't use technology. Obviously, technology is great," he said.

However, no moderation is not healthy. Most of the individuals who come to the sleep center have sleep apnea, a condition that causes someone to stop breathing occasionally. Others have sleep disorders of various magnitudes.

Shakyrra Green, 19, a sophomore at Penn State Schuylkill, recently found herself forgoing sleep because she was using her iPhone 4.

"I'm like addicted to my phone," she said.

The apps and the ease of information is very alluring, she said. Recently, she was on her phone until 3 or 4 a.m. and realized she had class at 9 a.m. She made it to class and ate breakfast but paid for it.

"I was really tired but I made it," the broadcast communications major said.

Sophomore Ndidika Ignacio, 19, said the ease of information is tempting.

"It can be distracting," Ignacio, an education major, said of being on the computer. She was writing a paper for her human development class.

Sitting next to her was her friend, Reilly Weeks, also an education major. Because of her schedule, Weeks said she is careful not to compromise sleep because of her iPhone usage.

Linda Madara, 49, was playing with her iPhone 4 as she sat at a table at the cafe. The Hidden Stream employee feels a sense of connect with her phone.

"I sleep with it next to me on the night stand," she said.

If she notices a message or text she often checks while in bed.

Getting the patients to recognize their habits is sometimes difficult.

"It's very hard to change people's habits," Cable said.

___ (c)2012 the Republican & Herald (Pottsville, Pa.) Visit the Republican & Herald (Pottsville, Pa.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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