Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Floating Down The River Without A Care (or Cellphone)

A recent New York Times article investigated how being outdoors and away from technology affects the brain.

The article reports on five neuroscientists who spent a week drifting down the San Juan River, camping on the banks and hiking the canyons.

No cell phones. No e-mail. No laptops.

They set out in nature to better understand how technology alters our thoughts and behavior, and how nature might reverse those changes.

They focused on how attention, memory and learning are affected when technology is removed from a person’s physical landscape.

The travelers discussed a seminal study from the University of Michigan that showed people can better learn after walking in the woods than after walking a busy street.

The study indicates that learning centers in the brain become taxed when asked to process information, even during the relatively passive experience of taking in an urban setting.
Sleep Medicine experts are also interested in how technology impacts children’s sleep patterns and ability to learn.

Recent studies found that adolescents used multiple forms of technology late into the night, including gaming systems, cell phones, and computers. As a result, they demonstrated difficulty staying awake and alert throughout the day.

This press release from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine explains why it’s important to remove technology from the bedroom. It provides tips on improving sleeping habits and, as a result, overall health.

Pre-bedtime activities like drinking milk, taking a bath, teeth-brushing, and reading a non-stimulating book will signal to the brain that it’s time to sleep. Exercise, caffeine, and sugary foods should be avoided. The ideal sleeping atmosphere is a dark, quiet room that is kept below 75 F.

Image by Inaz

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The Official Blog of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is intended as an information source only. Content of this blog should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment, and it is not a substitute for medical care, which should be provided by the appropriate health care professional. If you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you should consult your personal physician or visit an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. The AADSM, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as the managing agent of the AADSM, assume no liability for the information contained on the Official Blog of the AADSM or for its use.