5 Science-Backed Benefits to a Digital Detox

Published on September 2, 2021

cartoon man and woman doing digital detox

In today’s digital world, it can seem impossible to find a moment to unplug from apps, emails and texts to find a moment’s peace. Now more than ever, there’s so much pressure to constantly be “on” or check an ever-increasing number of apps and platforms, which are designed to make our lives easier, but inevitably end up making things more complex.

It’s for this reason that many people take regular digital detoxes — to unplug from the noise, decompress and tune into their own thoughts and feelings. After all, how can you really know what you’re feeling if you’re constantly doom scrolling or consuming someone else’s content? It’s been proven that social media use can have a negative impact on mental health.

The Health Benefits of a Digital Detox

A digital detox can have significant positive impacts on your mental health and overall wellness. Studies have shown that we would all feel happier with regular breaks from our phones and computers. But don’t take our word for it. Here are five science-backed benefits to a digital detox:

1. Improved Performance

Studies have shown that taking a break from your smartphone could have a positive impact on your work performance by boosting your productivity. As employees spend less time on their phones or scrolling through social media during work hours, they’re more likely to focus on the task at hand and feel motivated to complete their work.

person's arms working on laptop beside a plant on a white table

2. Decreased Stress

Unplugging from social media and the internet may also do wonders for your stress levels. Some studies have shown that with less time spent on social media, people have more of an opportunity to live in the present moment, spend quality time with friends and family, and overall, increase their mental wellbeing and relaxation levels.

person's hands on lap in relaxed state

3. Better Sleep

Another downside of the digital age is the negative impact of so much screen time on our sleep cycles. In fact, light-emitting devices have been shown to reduce the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Not only that, but they also disrupt circadian rhythms and delay REM sleep. Cutting back on your screen time by taking a digital detox could help you catch up on your sleep.

READ MORE: 4 simple ways to sleep better tonight and boost your health.

woman sleeping soundly in bed after digital detox

4. A Clear Mind

In addition to boosting productivity, taking a break from your smartphone could help your mind feel lighter and clearer by reducing its cognitive load. A 2019 study found that unwinding by scrolling through your cellphone could be more mentally taxing than we might think, and if you’re hoping to give your mind a refresh between work tasks, you’re better off foregoing the smartphone.

person working at laptop and writing as part of digital detox

5. Increased Feelings of Happiness and Connectivity

Although we might tend to assume that constant smartphone use makes us feel more connected to others, studies suggest it can actually have the opposite effect by contributing to feelings of loneliness and depression. A study from the University of Arizona found that a strong dependency on smartphones is directly correlated with depressive symptoms, and people, especially adolescents, should keep their usage in check and find healthier coping mechanisms when they’re feeling down.

a young black woman smiling happily and looking away

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The Author
Mackenzie Patterson is a Toronto-based writer and journalist. She enjoys long walks, iced coffee on tap, and discovering all the latest and greatest health and wellness trends.