Linda Stone (who coined the phrase "continuous partial attention") has noticed that people hold their breath and breathe shallowly when answering email, a phenomenon she'd dubbed "email apnea." She's posted a little rumination on the long-term health impacts of impaired email breathing.
I wanted to know -- how widespread is email apnea*? I observed others on computers and BlackBerries: in their offices, their homes, at cafes. The vast majority of people held their breath, or breathed very shallowly, especially when responding to email. I watched people on cell phones, talking and walking, and noticed that most were mouth-breathing and hyperventilating. Consider also, that for many, posture while seated at a computer can contribute to restricted breathing.
Does it matter? How was holding my breath affecting me?
I called Dr. Margaret Chesney, at the National Institute of Health (NIH). Research conducted by Dr. Margaret Chesney and NIH research scientist Dr. David Anderson demonstrated that breath-holding contributes significantly to stress-related diseases. The body becomes acidic, the kidneys begin to re-absorb sodium, and as the oxygen (O2), carbon dioxide (CO2), and nitric oxide (NO) balance is undermined, our biochemistry is thrown off.
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