Email Apnea

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Email apnea is a concept that presented by research Linda Stone describing the act of holding one's breath as an unconscious physiological reaction while reading an email.

"In the short term, disrupted breathing can increase feelings of stress, as it is linked with the vagus nerve, part of the “animal brain” which oversees basic flight and fight responses, among many other things. By breathing irregularly, the body triggers a nervous response, tensing, dumping chemicals into the nervous system, and confusing the body. Email apnea may also be linked with weight gain, according to Stone, as the vagus nerve is also involved in determinations of satiety; so by not breathing in the morning while you check your email, you may interfere with your lunchtime appetite" Wisegeek: What is Email Apnea?.

Effects of Email Apnea

"I've just opened my email and there's nothing out of the ordinary there. It's the usual daily flood of schedule, project, travel, information, and junk mail. Then I notice...I'm holding my breath.

As the email spills onto my screen, as my mind races with thoughts of what I'll answer first, what can wait, who I should call, what should have been done two days ago; I've stopped the steady breathing I was doing only moments earlier in a morning meditation and now, I'm holding my breath.

And here's the deal. You're probably holding your breath, too". Just Breathe: Building the case for Email Apnea Linda Stone, Huffington Post, February 8, 2008.

Treating Email Apnea

"In early 2007, at the suggestion of my M.D., I took a course in Buteyko breathing and incorporated it into my morning routine. I would get up, take a walk, do twenty minutes of Buteyko, then, sit down at my computer to work.

"Day one: Within the first few minutes of sitting down at my computer, I noticed I was holding my breath – a huge contrast to the breathing exercises I was doing only moments before.

"Day two: Within the first few minutes of sitting down at my computer, I noticed I was holding my breath.

"Day three: This isn’t an anomaly, it’s a habit! Does everyone do this?!

vI spent the next 6-7 months observing and interviewing over 200 people. I watched and spoke with people in their offices, in cafes, in their homes, and, roughly 80% of this sample appeared to have what I called, email apnea. I interviewed a variety of healthcare practitioners and researchers on the physiological impacts of breath holding. I’m grateful to these professionals for answering my questions, referring me to other professionals, and referring me to relevant research" 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.

"Breath holding and hyperventilating disturb our body's balance of oxygen, CO2, and NO. Nitric oxide, not to be confused with the nitrous oxide used in dental offices, plays an important role in our health. From a briefing document prepared for the Royal Society and Association of British Science Writers, Pearce Wright explains, "The immune system uses nitric oxide in fighting viral, bacterial and parasitic infections, and tumours. Nitric oxide transmits messages between nerve cells and is associated with the processes of learning, memory, sleeping, feeling pain, and, probably, depression. It is a mediator in inflammation and rheumatism". Diagnosis Email Apnea Linda Stone, 11, 30, 2009.


Linda Stone on email apnea and continuous partial attention