Screens are unavoidable in modern society; we live life staring at our phones or at a computer screen and sometimes we can get a little too complacent in the way things are. We get so used to that bright blue light that we forget how it can affect us negatively. Tablets and smart devices have made life much easier, especially during the various lockdowns, but we should always remember to stay safe and take steps to reduce our screen time as much as possible. Here are the ways in which all those hours online can impact your health.
Vision and eye damage
This is possibly the most obvious effect that we might suffer from too much screen time. In the short term, you may suffer from dry eyes and find that your eyes start to burn or become red and irritated. Other effects include headaches, light sensitivity, and blurred vision. To combat these effects you should take steps to reduce blue light exposure which can be done by reducing your overall screen time, but you can also help fight these symptoms by investing in blue light filtering glasses to wear when you are using your computer or tablet.
Screen time can also affect your long-term vision. Studies have shown a clear association between screen time and myopia (near-sightedness). Although genetics obviously has a clear influence on vision, there are other undeniable factors that come into play and some of these are increased screen time and less time indoors. To try and prevent your children from becoming short-sighted try to keep them off the tablets and get them to spend more time outdoors, which we understand is far easier said than done!
Blue light exposure not only affects our eyesight but can also impact how well we sleep because it disrupts our natural circadian rhythm. The body produces melatonin as we get closer to nighttime but our brains can get tricked by brightly lit screens into thinking it is still day time thus inhibiting the production of melatonin and causing us to struggle to fall asleep at the right time. To keep your sleeping schedule intact and ensure you get a decent amount of REM sleep, avoid using electronic devices late at night and make a concerted effort to keep the bedroom a screen-free zone.
In addition to affecting sleep hormones, keeping your body in this alert and awake state can cause the brain to release cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that increases tension in the body and whilst your brain’s electrical activity is overloaded with scrolling and messages and online shopping, this can make it incredibly difficult to bring your body back down into a restful state of mind at night.
Sleep is important for your cognitive function, attention span, long and short-term memory, overall energy levels, decision-making abilities, and general mood. Missing out on just one night of good sleep can have a snowball effect and lead to long-term sleeping problems which in turn will affect your various cognitive functions in the long run.
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