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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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Did an earthquake take out SA Internet?

Seabed avalanches caused by an earthquake could have cut several undersea cables, leading to one of South Africa’s biggest Internet outages yet, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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Picture by TooMuchCoffeeMan from pixabay.com

There is still no official explanation for freak breaks 11 days ago in two separate undersea cables that provide international access to South Africa’s Internet users. However, as reported in the Sunday Times yesterday, the most common causes of such breaks are damage by ship anchors and earthquakes at sea.

However, the freak occurrence of two separate cables being cut simultaneously far out at sea, as happened on the morning of 16 January, can only be explained by sea-bed activity.  One of the cables was cut in two places, and it is widely believed that a third major cable was also cut.

The cable damage mostly occurred in or near an area called the Congo Canyon, which starts inland and extends 220km into the sea. It is known for having the world’s strongest “turbidity currents”, underwater sediment avalanches over hundreds of kilometers, which are known to destroy undersea cables.

The most likely culprit is a 5.6 magnitude earthquake that struck the Atlantic Ocean near Ascension Island shortly before the cables were cut on the morning of 16 January. The earthquake occurred just before 8am South African time, and local ISPs reported losing international access from just before 10am. The epicentre of the earthquake was more than a thousand kilometres off the coast of Africa, but disturbances caused by seismic activity at sea become more powerful as they approach the coast. Combined with turbidity currents, this could well have taken out all cables in the area.

The West Africa Cable System (WACS) was cut in two places, and the South Atlantic 3 (SAT3) cable in one location. Industry insiders believe that the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) cable was also cut, but it has not been publicly confirmed.

South Africa is connected to the global Internet via seven such cables, with a total capacity of 42.3 terabits per second (tbps).  These cables, in turn, connect to additional cables connecting the West and East coasts of Africa, with a single cable running from Angola to Brazil providing another 40 tbps.

However, it emerged in the past week that smaller ISPs in South Africa had bought capacity on only one or two cables. In a freak occurrence, two of the most commonly used cables, the WACS and SAT 3 cables, were cut simultaneously, plunging millions of Internet users into data darkness.

Customers of the major mobile network operators – Vodacom and MTN – were largely unaffected, as these tend to have both part-ownership and access to most of the cables running up both the East and West coasts of Africa.

Visit the next page to read about how ISPs have battled to reroute access, how massive resources are needed to deal with these kinds of outages, and when the ship will reach the breakage points.

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Lenovo express-delivers new range from CES to SA

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Lenovo has unveiled its new range of ThinkBook laptops, barely two weeks after they were showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. 

The company’s newest sub-brand, ThinkBook, is intended to meet the demand for more aesthetically pleasing, yet agile and powerful devices.

The new range is aimed at small and medium enterprises. According to the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), there are more than 2-million SMEs in South Africa – although there are only 667,433 in the formal sector. This tallies with estimates in recent editions of SME Survey, produced by World Wide Worx, which suggest 650,000 active, formal businesses in South Africa. These SMEs employ about 14% of the South African workforce. 

Lenovo argues that access to affordable, yet efficient, technology is a crucial factor in aiding business success and contributing towards the success of the nation. The company has found, in its own research, that younger people prefer working, creating and communicating online “with stylish devices that make a statement”. This means they require streamlined laptops which can be used to collaborate from any remote location, to enhance productivity.

Lenovo said in a statement on Thursday night: “Backed by customer research, ThinkBook is specially designed for SMEs, who typically purchase consumer laptops for perceived design and price advantages but can no longer rationalise their lack of extended services and warranties – core needs of any business. ThinkBook allows growing firms to keep a competitive edge in attracting today’s young tech-savvy execs with trendy yet cost-effective devices. 

Thibault Dousson, general manager of  Lenovo for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said at the launch event: “With the capacity, SMEs have to grow and upskill the country’s workforce, they are perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between the public sector and large enterprise. Bearing in mind the demands of the digital economy, this sector needs skills and resources in order to compete, and that is where devices such as the ThinkBook come in.”

In South Africa, ThinkBook laptops are now available in 13-, 14- and 15-inch variants. The flagship ThinkBook 14 and ThinkBook 15 devices are powered by Windows 10 Pro and up to 10th Gen Intel Core processing, which Lenovo says combines high performance with intuitive, time-saving features. Options include Intel Optane memory, WiFi 6, and discrete graphics.

The ThinkBook 15 comes at just 18.9mm thin, while the ThinkBook 14 is a mere 17.9mm, both with FHD displays and two Dolby Audio speakers, dual-array, Skype certified microphones and a USB 3.1 (Gen2, Type-C) port.

Lenovo has also introduced the ThinkBook S series, including an elegant 13.3-inch ThinkBook 13s. The sleek and light device is constructed of a metallic finish on an all-aluminium chassis, alongside a narrow bezel display. As with the ThinkBook 14 and 15, the ThinkBook 13s also features advanced Intel processing and an FHD display, Dolby Vision and Harman speakers with Dolby Audio.

Visit the next page to read about the design and features of the new ThinkBook range.

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