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What is Waking Email Apnea?

Posted On March 9, 2014
March 09, 2014

If you or a loved one wake up on a regular basis in the middle of the night gasping for air or trying to catch a breath then you are somewhat familiar with sleep apnea. This condition is defined as pauses in breathing throughout the course of a night’s sleep due to an obstruction. In fact, the actual definition of the word apnea means temporary cessation of breathing. So sleep apnea occurs at night but can pauses in breathing also occur during daylight hours? Apparently, the answer is yes. A number of years ago Linda Stone who worked for both Apple and Microsoft discovered a phenomenon known as email apnea. She described this condition as the temporary absence or suspension of breathing, or shallow breathing, while reading or answering email.

Why Does Email Apnea Occur and Is the Condition Dangerous?

According to observational studies that she conducted, Stone found out that four out of five people stopped breathing on a regular basis when they read or typed emails. In reading or responding to emails, some communication might not be all about moonbeams and puppy-dog tails. Some email content might induce stress and in turn, people hold their breath.

Holding your breath does not allow oxygen to properly circulate throughout your body and most importantly to your brain. When this occurs during the day, different symptoms develop as opposed to sleep apnea’s symptoms of poor concentration, daytime sleepiness and overall tiredness. With waking email apnea’s lack of oxygen, your body kicks into panic mode or better known as a fight or flight response. This results in activation of the sympathetic nervous system. Your heart can race. Your pupils can become dilated, and you can sweat to excess.

When your sympathetic nervous system is consistently activated due to email apnea, it sets your body up for multiple problems with regard to your immune, metabolic and reproductive systems. You can even have symptoms of chronic stress.

At the National Institute of Health (NIH), research was conducted that verified the theory about what occurs with email apnea. The group discovered that holding one’s breath while awake can trigger stress-related diseases.

Another study performed at the University of California, Irvine evaluated the effect on participants when their email access was restricted. The researchers demonstrated that without email access, test subjects had greater task focus and lower stress.

What Can You Do to Combat Email Apnea?

The best advice as per Stone to be able to combat and overcome email apnea is to change the way you handle emails and/or your technological gadgets. In other words, take time to stop, think and breathe. Here are some tips:

  • Set time limits as to how much time you spend emailing.
  • Schedule a set time each day that you will respond to emails.
  • Do not answer emails during downtime or on vacation.
  • Don’t be chained to your Smartphone, i.e. don’t answer emails while in the car or bathroom.
  • Walk away from your computer if you feel stressed or at least exhale deeply.

If you are having trouble sleeping for whatever reason, contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 to schedule a free consultation.

About Phoebe Ochman

Phoebe Ochman, Director of Communications for Sleep Apnea Treatment Centers of America, manages all content and communications for the company.
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