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Want Better Sleep, Clearer Thoughts, Less Stress? Try A Digital Detox

Maybe it's time to unplug.
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Want Better Sleep, Clearer Thoughts, Less Stress? Try A Digital Detox

It's hard to unplug in a world that's permanently connected.

Just think about these stats for a second: 

— There were 269 billion emails sent and received worldwide every day in 2017. It's going to hit 333 billion by 2022. That's nearly 1 billion per day.

— In a 10-year span, Facebook went from 100 million monthly users to 2.19 billion.  

— In about the same time span, Twitter's 30 million daily users hit 330 million.

We're connected. All the time. Day. Night. Weekend. Vacation. Holidays. 

Maybe it's time for a "digital detox," also known as a "digital Sabbath" or simply "unplugging." Some apps are going to help you do it. But if you do disconnect, be prepared.

First of all, the brain misses the dopamine rush triggered by likes on Facebook or some Instagram love. Basically, every ping makes the brain sing. Dopamine is a brain chemical linked to reward and pleasure. Digitally induced gratification is instant. Some say it is addictive. 

Once you've weaned yourself from excess dopamine, there is another, brighter side. You're likely to experience these things:

Less stress: Communicating with colleagues after hours or during a vacation not only creates stress, it also prevents your brain from relaxing.

Richer conversation: Studies show that people engage in deeper conversations in the absence of their phones. Even when people aren't actively checking a device, awareness that their smartphone is turned on and close by leads to distracted interactions.

A meditative state: Unplugging can lead to a dose of serenity.

You have better sleep: Studies show that if you check your phone before going to bed, you're not going to get high-quality rest.

Elastic thinking: When your mind is unclogged, it's free to explore — to string together random thoughts that lead to new realizations and discoveries. That is "elastic thinking." To get there, say "not this time" to your phone chime. 

Here's something interesting: Computers don't engage in elastic thinking, but it's hardwired into our human brains. Once it's off and running, this type of thinking can lead to scientific breakthroughs or solutions to nagging problems.

So consider this. The high-torque tech world is changing faster than ever, which requires adaptive, flexible thinking.

That means innovators have to figure out how to somehow balance their plugged-in responsibilities with giving their brains enough rest to dream up our next generation of digital dopamine.