We are becoming a nation of sleep-deprived zombies.
You may have seen in the news yesterday (The Guardian; available online), that we are becoming a nation of sleep-deprived zombies, the UK being the worst for sleep deprivation than anywhere else.
More and more children and young people are being admitted to hospital with related conditions than ever before, costing us a phenomenal amount of money, and stretching the already pressured NHS, which we keep complaining about is unable to cope (but then their medical staff are also sleep deprived).
Social media has a lot to answer for, of course. We are consumed by this feeling that we must know every minute of the day what others think about us. Does it seriously matter? In all honesty, no. Unfortunately, youth (and I am generalising here) are locked into tech so much that prising it away from them makes you the worst person in the world. I’ve experienced it in the youth setting.
We were running a Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition. For the unfamiliar, the young people spend a few days testing their skills in the great outdoors. It’s a wonderful chance to experience our country and prove how independent you can be without adult intervention or the use of your phones and technical wizardry. Our young people can travel with their phones but as soon as assessment starts, smartphones get locked away, and they are issued with plain and simple mobile phones with no GPS or Google Maps facility. It literally makes emergency calls. On this occasion, on arrival at site, a young person asked me to keep a particularly close eye on their phone as they had managed to go 100-odd days with followers and in essence the end of the earth would be nigh if they skipped a day without updating their status every so often. Needless to say, I had more important things to do, such as consider their wellbeing and safety on a remotely supervised expedition.
Youth of today are struggling to limp through life on just a few hours sleep, are expected to put in more effort each day, and believe that life may as well go hang if people the other side of the world, many who they have never met, don’t know that they’ve just eaten chocolate cereal for breakfast and brushed their hair the other way.
If the pressure is on to perform academically well, but you are drawn to your tech too much, don’t blame your tech, blame yourself. You have a brain, you are clever, use it. You are the one strong enough to turn that device off and say ‘it won’t rule my life’, but it’s all too easy to let it do just that.
Get outside and remember the fun of climbing a tree, rolling down a hill, splashing in puddles, and even having water bomb fights. If you don’t take control, tech will take over your life. It is a fact. The more you allow it to do this, the less sleep you will get, the more your brain will essentially fry, and concentration will wane. What does this mean? Reach exam time and you’ll either be so hung up on the fact that you’re sat in a two-hour exam without seeing the ‘likes’ that you’ll fail, or you’ll fall asleep and fail anyway. It’s a no-brainer. Well, you might as well not have one if you don’t give it chance to rest.
Simple starting solution is to give yourself half an hour in the morning, turn off the wifi, have another look over your lunch break, turn the wifi off again, then have a bit of time in the evening. All your notifications will pop up at once, you can deal with them or ignore them, and then you can turn it all off an hour before you go to bed, have a bath, and relax. The next day, guess what? Your phone and all the notifications are still there, but at least you have the energy to get your backside out of bed and answer your messages with some thought process. You might even surprise yourself how interesting the world around you really is and that it doesn’t stop at the end of your arm.
Try it for a month. Best of luck to all those tech-free relaxed people willing to accept the challenge.