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A long term study has found that turning off notifications for brief periods of time can have health benefits years down the line.

Researchers, a joint team from Carnegie Mellon University and Spanish telecommunications company Telefónica recruited 30 people to an experiment where they would turn off all notifications for week.

According to Quartz, the team actually struggled to find 30 people willing to do that.

They settled in the end for just turning them off for 24 hours.

The study, entitled the Do Not Disturb Challenge began in 2015, and the 30 participants were a mix of males and females, aged 19-56, whom the study described as 'white collar workers'.

Fitter, happier, more productive

The immediate results showed participants felt more productive and less distracted.

However, being without notifications made some feel isolated, less responsive, and therefore anxious.

According to the paper, this anxiety did not translate into more serious, systematic stress.

Two thirds of participants told the researchers after the 24 hour hiatus that they would be changing the way they manage their notifications.

Catching up with the participants in 2017, the study found that for a majority of them, the change had not been short lived.

This was a key finding of the study which claimed previous attempts to change notification behaviour had not resulted in long term behavioural changes.

By performing this one day deprivation experiment, the participants had lowered their stress and distraction for years to come.

Ways to cut back

Not all participants completely changed their notification behaviours, but two years on 59.1 per cent had kept at least partially to the changes they'd made in the immediate aftermath.

For instance one participant who had turned off Skype notifications completely, had decided to turn them on for professional contacts, but off for personal contacts.

Another had kept them for SMS, but turned them off for Facebook and other social media.

indy100 previously reported on other ways to reduce the stress from your phone without completely turning off notifications.

Setting your phone to monochrome will remove red, making notifications feel less urgent, and prevents the red notification symbol prompting excitement in the brain.

HT Quartz

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