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Author Topic: Diagnosis: Email Apnea?  (Read 3839 times)


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Diagnosis: Email Apnea?
« on: June 27, 2010, 03:52 AM »
I noticed this about myself a few months ago when I was trying to figure out why I get so sleepy when doing certain tasks on the computer. Now, rather than getting up and crawling into bed for a nap, I make a special effort to breathe more when doing them to avoid the problem.

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.

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?

*Email apnea - a temporary absence or suspension of breathing, or shallow breathing, while doing email


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Re: Diagnosis: Email Apnea?
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2010, 09:27 AM »
What a weird phenomena. I've never done that.

Stoic Joker

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Re: Diagnosis: Email Apnea?
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2010, 09:49 AM »
And here I thought it was just the dry technical content that was putting me to sleep.

But seriously, it does make sense as sitting for long periods can be bad for circulation. Sitting badly (I've seen some really crappy office furniture) causing a host of other maladies is a logical assumption.

The Yoga breathing does work quite well, as I've used it for years usually to (avoid strangling someone)cope with stress in situations where I couldn't smoke.


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Re: Diagnosis: Email Apnea?
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2010, 10:00 AM »
Something similar happened to me, sometimes to the extent that it became rather painful to take a deep breath again.

I had to go to a speech therapist a few years ago (I'd lost my voice thanks to a cold, and it didn't really come back).  She was particularly keen on teaching "low breathing," meaning breathing from the diaphragm, as opposed to this shallow  "upper chest" breathing.  She said babies and small children don't have this problem, they breathe naturally, but it develops as you get older.  It seems to be correlated with the sedentary occupation of using a computer, but I don't remember it happening when I was reading, only during computer use.


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Re: Diagnosis: Email Apnea?
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2010, 04:09 PM »
I read the article and thought: hmm...maybe....

Then I mentioned it to my GF and she said: Wow! That's true. I hold my breath all the time when I'm opening something on a computer.

So I guess there really is something to it.  ;)

@app103 - My GF is involved in a major system modernization project for our state's government. She said to thank you for the find. She's going see if the concerns and problems the article talks about can somehow be addressed as part of the workplace changes her group is working on. She's thinking of incorporating proper breathing into the employee ergonomic training program - possibly combined with some sort of popup screen reminders.

Anyway, she thanks you.  :Thmbsup:
« Last Edit: June 28, 2010, 04:11 PM by 40hz »