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When I first left my family and country to work in Africa, our means of communication was very limited. The only way then to communicate with the folks back home was by letter or telephone. Making an international trunk call was expensive in those days and we limited that to special occasions or an emergency. So the common way to let my parents know I was well was by airmail letter. This was a blue thin sheet of paper on which you wrote your letter on one side while the other side was reserved for the address and sender’s address. When ready you folded it in three parts and closed the letter by wetting and folding the pre-glued sides that were sticking out. My first contract was in a remote area and it took three weeks for the letter to arrive in my parents’ mailbox. If they would write back the same evening it would take another three weeks before receiving their reply. We received mail once per week in those days and I remember hurrying to the post office on Fridays after work to see if any mail had arrived. Opening the mailbox was like opening a birthday present. What was going to be in there?  Would it be only the electricity bill or some letters from family and friends? Replying to letters was something to sit down for and taking time to share what was important and often in detail. Now that my own children are studying in another country I cannot imagine how agonizing it must have been for my parents not to hear anything from me for at least six weeks. How different things are now, thirty five years later. We communicate with our children weekly over the Internet if not daily and also my mother of 86 years old has mastered the use of her tablet and the limitless ways of communication that are available to us today. The messages are however shorter and shallower as we are able to exchange a few words anytime now.

The use of Internet and the social media has become a fixture of modern life indeed. It is a constant stream of information coming and going, and a way to stay connected. It keeps us in touch with friends, family, and all of the people out there that are important to us. We need to beware though as all the Twittering, Instagramming and Snapchatting may affect us negatively as well as time spent on social media may be seriously undermining our need to relax and rest.

Young people are among the most avid and heavy users of social media, and research focused on the effects of social media engagement among young adults. The results strongly indicate social media use in young people is linked to sleep problems.

Science is just beginning to assess the impact of social media use on health and well being.

Troubling associations are being uncovered between social media use and psychological health in children, teens and young people.

Ii is therefore important to draw boundaries on social media time. With such easy and unlimited access, it’s it is difficult to establish and maintain limits around social media but it is not impossible. We can have our tweet, post, or chat in a healthy way, it just about making a decision for balance in our social media world. Here follow a few tips from Michael J. Breus to bring about that balance:

Charge your mobile devices out of the bedroom (this way you can’t hear it buzz in the middle of the night).

Stop social media use at least an hour before bedtime (this can be a tough one, try 30 minutes at first, then make it a little longer).

Replace this time, with light reading (not on an electronic device), simple stretches, meditation or deep breathing.

Don’t check Social Media in the middle of the night when you may wake to use the restroom or just get more comfortable.

 Reference: Michael J. Breus, PhD, The Sleep Doctor™