According to the American Time Use Survey the average individual spends 8.8 hours of the day sleeping. What do we do with the remaining 15.2 hours spent awake?
The average person spends an alarming 4.7 hours on their phone, 5.5 hours watching video content, 1.5 hours streaming Netflix, and a total of 8.6 hours on all electronic devices per day.
Many have fallen into the habit of scrolling and clicking on their downtime, most prominently right before sleep. “Checking emails, social media channels and browsing the internet keeps the brain working, making it more difficult to finally switch off and fall asleep.”
De-Stress With Silence
We live in a chaotic world buzzing with noise pollution, which the World Health Organization refers to as the “modern plague”. Our bodies react to noise, triggering a response of stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, to be released. Studies have shown that constant noise causes a steady stream of cortisol which can lead to serious health issues.
Noise raises our blood pressures, it disrupts our concentration, and it suppresses our immune systems. A steady exposure puts us at risk of hypertension, high stress levels, increased heart rate, and damage to our psychological health.
Silence, on the other hand, releases tension in the body, lowers blood pressure, improves sleep and has even been found to reduce chronic pain.
In a 2006 study on the physiological effects of music by Luciano Bernardi, he noted that two minute pauses of silence were found more relaxing than filling those pauses with ‘relaxing’ music.
Grow Brain Cells With Silence
Imke Kirste, a Duke University regenerative biologist, found herself unexpectedly studying silence during her research on the effects of sounds in the brains of adult mice. She assumed silence would be the control that wouldn’t produce an effect. What she found was that two hours of silence prompted cell development in the hippocampus, the brain’s centre for emotion and formation of memory. The regeneration of new brain cells does not always have health benefits, but Kirste found that the cells seemed to become functioning neurons.
“We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.” (Imke Kirste, The Digital Mentor)
Prompt Creativity With Silence
Raichle and his colleagues pointed out an important factor of the brain that had yet to be thoroughly analyzed. They found that the ‘default mode’ of the brain is persistently active, despite being ‘at rest’. The brain’s default mode network particularly engages in self-reflection. In silence, while our brains are at rest, we allow ourselves to daydream, imagine, reminisce and fantasize, spurring on creativity, passion and empathy. Silence boosts our creative outlets, stimulates contentment, and refreshes our search for profound meaning in our experiences.
“Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.” (Francis Bacon)
In the meantime, Let’s Move Vancouver has some helpful tips to integrate silence into your life:
-Clear Your Mind With Daily Exercise
-Take Breaks At Work
-Set Aside Time For Meditation
-Treat Yourself To A Massage
-Power Down All Electronics One Hour Before Bed
-Unplug yourself from the noise and recharge your brain with silence.
By: Jenna Mae Diamante | @jennamaedia