Exposure to electromagnetic fields from cellphones, computers, and other gadgets is causing an epidemic of brain fog and tiredness among women. Here’s help!
Getting directions, scheduling book club, unwinding with a game... our cellphones become more important all the time. That’s why new research from Switzerland is so alarming: Scientists report that cellphone radiation can negatively impact memory, reducing recall by 22 percent. What’s more, further studies reveal that frequent exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) emitted by cellphones and other common electronics can increase concerns such as headaches, fatigue, and anxiety by up to 38 percent.
“EMFs not only interfere with the electrical impulses cells use to communicate, they also create unstable molecules that damage cells,” explains Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, author of Zapped ($11.96, Amazon). And as Dianna Hoppe, MD, a women’s health expert based in Encinata, California, points out, “EMFs also increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can trigger brain fog and sleep problems.” Luckily, it’s easy to outwit common EMF hazards to enhance energy and mental clarity once you know where they lurk.
EMFs emitted by cellphones and electrical outlets impair the production of the sleep hormone melatonin and dull the body’s ability to slip into restorative sleep. “That’s worrisome because the brain clears itself of toxins during sleep, and impairments can lead to brain fog,” says Gittleman. “Plus, melatonin has an antioxidant action that defends cells against EMF damage.” To slash exposure, she advises placing your phone at least six feet from your bed and switching it to airplane mode, which blunts its ability to send and receive electromagnetic signals. And move your bed so its head is three feet from any outlets in use since they produce stronger electrical fields than vacant outlets.
TVs can produce problematic levels of EMFs, especially when viewed in close quarters, Gittleman warns. “But exposure diminishes dramatically with distance, so position your furniture at least six feet away from the screen,” she suggests. And since routers, laptops, smart TVs, and other Wi-Fi–enabled devices can emit radiation even when turned off, plug them into power strips. “This acts like a kill switch so you can easily cut off electricity to reduce EMFs,” she explains. For added protection, consider switching your lamps to LED bulbs. “They typically produce far fewer EMFs than compact fluorescent bulbs,” notes Gittleman. And while LEDs may cost a bit more, they last up to three times longer than fluorescents.
Many of us use a smartphone to get directions when we travel. The problem: “The phone has to work harder to get a signal through the metal vehicle, so it produces more EMFs — and more reach you,” says Dr. Hoppe. Her advice: “Use the phone’s speaker rather than routing it through Bluetooth devices, which emit additional EMFs,” she suggests. Finally, consider downloading a map of your trip before you leave. To do: Look up your destination on Google Maps while you’re connected to Wi-Fi. Select the menu, then select “Offline Maps,” followed by “Custom Maps” and “Download.” Then when it’s time to drive, you can put your phone into EMF-reducing airplane mode and still get turn-by-turn spoken driving directions.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.
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