Our world is stressful. You live in it, you feel it, which is why I encourage you to manage and reduce stress on the daily. Meditation and relaxation practices are the best ways to give your body those much-needed breaks from the chronic strain that can leave you feeling sick, worn out, and out of sorts. And while we’re all too familiar with the major life stressors like work, family and finances, one that’s often overlooked is 24/7 exposure to electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) – and their disruptive impact on your sleep. More than ever, we’re learning about the impact of chronically poor sleep and its far-reaching consequences for your health. Anything you can do to improve the quality of your sleep, the better, and EMFs are one stressor you have more control over than you may realize. Here are the basics: what they do to the body and what you can do to tame their sleep – and life – disrupting effects:
EMFs are easy to find.
If you’re looking for EMFs, they’re not hard to find, they’re woven into the fabric of modern life. EMFs are produced by electrical or electronic activity, so they emanate from just about any device that you plug in. While some folks are more sensitive to it than others, just about all of us, every day – and all night too – are being virtually steeped in a bath of low level “electric smog.” We’re soaking up EMF’s beaming out from wi-fi connections, wireless phones, cordless phones, laptops, game consoles, plus refrigerators, blenders, coffee grinders, dishwashers, washer/dryers, microwave ovens, electric stoves, air conditioners, electric toothbrushes, electric blankets, baby monitors, you name it.
EMFs play games with key hormones.
One major downside to these ubiquitous electronic gizmos? The research suggests the EMFs they generate can disrupt the production of melatonin and serotonin — both of which are essential to prevent inflammation, promote good sleep and a good mood. Other studies indicate that EMFs can disrupt the function of your pineal gland, which helps to regulate sleep and wakefulness based on your response to light and dark. As useful as these devices may be, we have to consider the ways that wireless technologies and all our devices interfere with the electrical systems in our bodies, day and night.
EMFs are concerning in the long-term health department too.
Beyond sleep issues, the EMF bigger picture isn’t pretty. For the last several decades, reams of scientific literature have been alerting us to how radiation from cell phones, communications towers, Wi-Fi routers, smart meters, and antennas constitute a systemic disruption of our physiology. This phenomenon not only impacts our ability to function well, to sleep and think clearly, it also causes damage at the cellular and molecular level, which can impact the blood-brain barrier, the cardiovascular system, the immune system, the stress response, and much more. Cancer is definitely in the picture. There’s growing evidence to suggest that EMFs’ long-term effects may include a rise in malignant brain tumors, as well as other cancers and neurological disorders. While the studies continue and the debate rages on, my advice is to be smart about EMFs and make the effort to limit your exposure as much as possible.
EMFs are disrupting you, day and night.
OK, so, back to sleep – and how to tell if EMFs are making you bad at it. If you’re constantly tired, irritable, having headaches, focus problems or insomnia, consider these solid clues that EMFs may be partly to blame. The biological effects of the electromagnetic energy emitted by communication technologies—as well as from things like the electrical wiring in your walls—are tough to measure. But we do know our bodies didn’t evolve to handle these kinds of energy frequencies. Sunlight is natural, visible. EMFs are an invisible external force constantly interacting with our biology, day and night, and we’re just starting to understand their dysregulating impact. In fact, studies have shown that we’re most vulnerable to EMFs at night, in other words, when our bodies most need to rest and repair. Not great news for a good night’s sleep.
Sleep better by taming the EMF beast.
Truth be told, short of moving to a hut in the wilderness, it’s tough to sidestep EMFs completely. But you can dial down your exposure during your waking hours, to minimize EMF-triggered hormone disruption and help set you up for a better night’s sleep. Think fewer EMFs = more zzzzzz’s. Here are some virtually painless ways to help keep the ‘waves at bay, and put a layer of protection between you and EMF’s:
IN YOUR LIVING SPACES:
1. Got a wireless router? Turn it off at night. No need to have high-powered Wi-Fi circulating through the house all night long and upsetting your hormonal apple cart (not to mention your family’s).
2. How wireless do you need to be on days when you’re working from home? Probably less than you think. Try switching your internet connection back to a wired Ethernet cable instead of all wireless all the time. Though it may seem old school, it’s an easy daytime switch that can help you sleep better at night.
3. When you’re not online, turn off your computer or device’s wireless connectivity software (including Bluetooth and AirPort).
4. Switch back to wired external keyboards, mouses, and printers, which are big sources of exposure. To retrofit you home office with wired gear, you’ll find plenty for sale on eBay.
5. New house rule of thumb: If you’re not using it, unplug it. Keeping the majority of your appliances, gadgets and non-essentials turned off and unplugged from the wall helps reduce the EMF influx. Most of us forget that plugged-in appliances, even when they’re turned off, still pull power, and generate EMFs.
6. Just add greenery – as in a few houseplants. There are a few small studies that suggest certain types of plants may have a mildly protective effect against low-level radiation. Though the jury’s still out, adding plants to your home and office can’t hurt.
IN THE BEDROOM:
7. Ditch your electric blanket. Not only are the fabrics almost always synthetic, but the heating elements, metal coils and wiring woven into the electric blanket make sleeping under one roughly akin to wearing a full-body antenna all night, maximizing your exposure to harmful EMF’s. Just say heck no!
8. Consider switching over to a metal-free futon, an all-fabric mattress or tatami mat, as some studies suggest that traditional, metal spring mattresses and box springs may act as giant in-home EMF antennas – not an appealing thought. If a new bed isn’t in your immediate future, consider EMF-minimizing items like bedding made with Swiss Shield Wear fabric, a Faraday fabric canopy or a microwave protection sleeping bag.
9. Stop using your phone as an alarm clock, and switch to a battery-operated one so you can rise and shine without the EMFs.
10. At night, unthinkable as this may sound to some, turn the cell off completely. If you can’t go all the way, at least park your cell phone as far away from your head as possible, ideally on the far side of your bedroom, or better yet, in the hallway or another room.
EVERY DAY LIVING:
11. Try to your cut cell phone usage as much as possible. It could save your brain, in addition to supporting better sleep. Avoid long conversations on your cell. If you must have a long one, put the cell on speaker to expand the distance between your cell and your brain.
12. Old school wired earbuds emit fewer EMFs than wireless ones so make the switch back to them, or at minimum, alternate between the two styles, to reduce the EMF load.
13. When in standby mode, keep your cell phone in a bag or briefcase, and off your body to lessen exposure.
14. Yes, those bars matter: When the signal on your cell is weak, say only one or two bars worth of reception, wait till you’re in an area with better reception, a full deck of bars, before dialing. Calling from areas where reception is weak forces the phone to work that much harder to make and maintain the connection, delivering more potentially damaging EMFs to your body.
15. Spend more time in nature and take off your shoes for a few minutes and physically connect to the earth. A dose of naked foot contact with the ground, known as ‘earthing’ or ‘grounding,’ delivers a gently energizing effect, helping to restore and maintain the body’s natural electrical balance.