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How gadgets break sleep – and help to fix it

Technology use has a massively negative impact on sleep, but also holds the solution, writes sleep expert MIRA RAKICEVIC

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The modern way of living has given us a lot of positive things and improved our lives in numerous ways. However, the quality of our sleep has deteriorated substantially in recent years due to our new lifestyle. 

It’s no secret that technology is partly to blame. One of the reasons for that is that at least 95% of people use technology within one hour before going to bed. Consequently, it is estimated that around 1.2 billion people worldwide suffer for some kind of sleep disorder. 

The Negative Impact of Technology on Sleep

We know that technology can affect the quality of our sleep in a negative way, but how does it happen? The main culprit is the blue light emitted from smartphones, computers, and TV screens. 

Light from the blue light spectrum tells our brain to stay awake and exerts stress on it. We need red light to tell our brains that it should wind down and get ready to go to sleep. LED bulbs can also be to blame as some of them emit very intense white-blue light. 

During the day, the effects of blue light are not strong. However, problems begin when we start using technology at night. We should try to avoid looking at any screens and expose ourselves to any artificial light sources at least one hour before going to sleep. This will give our brain enough time to tell our bodies to start secreting melatonin and prepare to enter the world of dreams. 

Technology Can Also Help Us Sleep Better

We’ve mentioned all the negative effects technology can have on our sleep. However, not everything about technology and sleep is bad. Thanks to science and hard-working people with vision, technology can also help us sleep better and improve the quality of our lives. Here are some of the most common sleep disorders high-tech solutions can help us with.

Snoring

Everybody knows at least one person who snores. If you don’t, then we’re afraid that you’re that person. Snoring statistics say that around 40% of men and 20% of women snore, which makes snoring one of the most widespread sleep disorders. 

It happens when air cannot pass freely through the nose and the throat during sleep, so it makes a loud and annoying sound. Nudging the person who snores helps, but technology is a much better solution.

The three best devices to use include Hupnos Snoring Mask, Philips SmartSleep Snoring, and Urgonight EEG Headband. All three aim to detect snoring and remind the sleeper to change their position to allow a free flow of air.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea sounds more serious than snoring, but it is more common than you’d think. The problem is that a lot of people are not aware of suffering from sleep apnea, so it often goes undiagnosed. 

Around 20% of the world population suffers from this disorder, but 80% of cases go completely undetected. Due to the nature of this disorder, men are more at danger of developing it than women. 

Luckily, technology comes to rescue here as well. The best three devices you can use are called SlumberBUMP, BiPAP, and EPAP technology – Theravent. These devices use different methods to prevent breathing obstructions by training people to sleep on their sides or regulating their airflow mechanically. 

Insomnia

Insomnia is perhaps the most annoying sleep disorder after snoring. There’s nothing worse than being tired after a long day of dealing with daily obligations but not being able to fall asleep when finally in bed. 

Prolonged insomnia which can put one’s health and life in danger is rare. However, around 10% to 15% of people in the world have troubles falling and staying asleep. Insomnia is even more common with older generations, 30-60% of whom suffer from it. 

Most of the time, insomnia is short-term and lasts for a day or several days. But sometimes it might last for weeks or months, in which case it becomes a serious problem.

In any case, those who suffer from insomnia should try solving their problem with technology. The three best solutions are called Sleepio, Ebb Insomnia Therapy, Good Night Biological LED Bulb. These devices learn about your sleeping patterns, lower your core temperature, or use light therapy to help you fall asleep and are pretty efficient at doing it.

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Tech promotes connections across groups in emerging markets

Digital technology users say they more regularly interact with people from diverse backgrounds

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Smartphone users – especially those who use social media – say they are more regularly exposed to people who have different backgrounds. They are also more connected with friends they don’t see in person, a Pew Research Center survey of adults in 11 emerging economies finds.

South Africa, included in the study, has among the most consistent levels of connection across age groups and education levels and in terms of cross-cultural connections. This suggests both that smartphones have had a greater democratisation impact in South Africa, but also that the country is more geared to diversity than most others. Of 11 countries surveyed, it has the second-lowest spread between those using smartphones and those not using them in terms of exposure to other religious groups.

Across every country surveyed, those who use smartphones are more likely than those who use less sophisticated phones or no phones at all to regularly interact with people from different religious groups. In most countries, people with smartphones also tend to be more likely to interact regularly with people from different political parties, income levels and racial or ethnic backgrounds. 

The Center’s new report is the third in a series exploring digital connectivity among populations in emerging economies based on nationally representative surveys of adults in Colombia, India, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, the Philippines, Tunisia, South Africa, Venezuela and Vietnam. Earlier reports examined attitudes toward misinformation and mobile technology’s social impact

The survey finds that smartphone and social media use are intertwined: A median of 91% of smartphone users in these countries also use social media or messaging apps, while a median of 81% of social media users say they own or share a smartphone. And, as with smartphone users, social media and messaging app users stand apart from non-users in how often they interact with people who are different from them. For example, 52% of Mexican social media users say they regularly interact with people of a different income level, compared with 28% of non-users. 

These results do not show with certainty that smartphones or social media are the cause of people feeling like they have more diverse networks. For example, those who have resources to buy and maintain a smartphone are likely to differ in many key ways from those who don’t, and it could be that some combination of those differences drives this phenomenon. Still, statistical modelling indicates that smartphone and social media use are independent predictors of greater social network diversity when other factors such as age, education and sex are held constant. 

Other key findings in the report include: 

  • Mobile phones and social media are broadening people’s social networks. More than half in most countries say they see in person only about half or fewer of the people they call or text. Mobile phones are also allowing many to stay in touch with people who live far away: A median of 93% of mobile phone users across the 11 countries surveyed say their phones have mostly helped them keep in touch with those who are far-flung. When it comes to social media, large shares report relationships with “friends” online who are distinct from those they see in person. A median of 46% of Facebook users across the 11 countries report seeing few or none of their Facebook friends in person regularly, compared with a median of 31% of Facebook users who often see most or all of their Facebook friends in person. 
  • Social activities and information seeking on subjects like health and education top the list of mobile activities. The survey asked mobile phone users about 10 different activities they might do on their mobile phones – activities that are social, information-seeking or commercial in nature. Among the most commonly reported activities are casual, social activities. For example, a median of 82% of mobile phone users in the 11 countries surveyed say they used their phone over the past year to send text messages and a median of 69% of users say they took pictures or videos. Many mobile phone users are also using their phones to find new information. For example, a median of 61% of mobile phone users say they used their phones over the past year to look up information about health and medicine for themselves or their families. This is more than the proportion that reports using their phones to get news and information about politics (median of 47%) or to look up information about government services (37%). Additionally, around half or more of mobile phone users in nearly all countries report having used their phones over the past 12 months to learn something important for work or school. 
  • Digital divides emerge in the new mobile-social environment. People with smartphones and social media – as well as younger people, those with higher levels of education, and men – are in some ways reaping more benefits than others, potentially contributing to digital divides. 
    • People with smartphones are much more likely to engage in activities on their phones than people with less sophisticated devices – even if the activity itself is quite simple. For example, people with smartphones are more likely than those with feature or basic phones to send text messages in each of the 11 countries surveyed, even though the activity is technically feasible from all mobile phones. Those who have smartphones are also much more likely to look up information for their households, including about health and government services. 
    •  There are also major differences in mobile usage by age and education level in how their devices are – or are not – broadening their horizons. Younger people are more likely to use their phones for nearly all activities asked about, whether those activities are social, information-seeking or commercial. Phone users with higher levels of education are also more likely to do most activities on their phones and to interact with those who are different from them regularly than those with lower levels of education. 
    •  Gender, too, plays a role in what people do with their devices and how they are exposed to different people and information. Men are more likely than women to say they encounter people who are different from them, whether in terms of race, politics, religion or income. And men tend to be more likely to look up information about government services and to obtain political news and information. 

These findings are drawn from a Pew Research Center survey conducted among 28,122 adults in 11 countries from Sept. 7 to Dec. 7, 2018. In addition to the survey, the Center conducted focus groups with participants in Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and Tunisia in March 2018, and their comments are included throughout the report. 

Read the full report at https://www.pewinternet.org/2019/08/22/in-emerging-economies-smartphone-and-social-media-users-have-broader-social-networks.

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Nokia to be first with Android 10

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Nokia is likely to be the first smartphone brand to roll out Android 10, after its manufacturer, HMD Global, announced that the Android 10 software upgrade would start in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Previously named Android Q, it was given the number after Google announced it was ditching sweet and dessert names due to confusion in different languages. Android 10 is due for release at the end of the year.

Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer of HMD Global said: “With a proven track record in delivering software updates fast, Nokia smartphones were the first whole portfolio to benefit from a 2-letter upgrade from Android Nougat to Android Oreo and then Android Pie. We were the fastest manufacturer to upgrade from Android Oreo to Android Pie across the range. 

“With today’s roll out plan we look set to do it even faster for Android Pie to Android 10 upgrades. We are the only manufacturer 100% committed to having the latest Android across the entire portfolio.”

HMD Global has given a guarantee that Nokia smartphone owners benefit from two years of OS upgrades and 3 years of security updates.

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