Email Addiction May Cause Increased Stress, Heart Problems

By Paul Gaita 05/18/15

Constantly checking emails can lead to increased stress, loss of sleep, or worse.

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Obsessively checking and responding to email may take a greater toll on your body than previously considered. Those are the findings from new research conducted by Professor Tom Jackson of Loughborough University in the United Kingdom on the impact of email use on stress levels.

Previous studies have discovered that workplace telepressure—a compulsion to immediately respond to work emails or worry obsessively about returning them—leads to fatigue, lost sleep, and lack of focus among employees. Jackson’s research focuses on the long-term effects of this obsessive need.

“Multifunctional devices like iPhones allow workers to be accessible 24 hours a day,” noted Jackson. “Because of this, it is likely that there will be an increase in stress levels.”

According to Jackson’s study, there is a direct link between workplace telepressure and an array of health conditions, from hypertension and thyroid disease to coronary artery disease and even heart failure. Most concerning of all is the fact that the employees may not be aware of exactly how much stress they are experiencing.

“In my study, users perceived themselves not to be stressed when the physiological findings showed their bodies were under increased stress,” said Jackson. In order to mitigate their workplace stress, workers may rely on their devices to such a degree that their use becomes obsessive. “Employees might find it difficult to self-regulate their use of communication media to ensure that they do not become overwhelmed,” said Jackson.

A 2010 poll conducted by the Huffington Post showed that 60% of respondents said that they spend less than two waking hours a day completely disconnected from email. An additional 20% stated that their time away from email was less than a half hour.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.