In March, when the COVID-19 outbreak came to fruition, everyone was so worried about getting sick that they never considered the other possible implications it may have on our health. Because so many were out of work and had to stay inside, Netflix, Facebook, and DoorDash became our best friends. People started waking up later and staying up until the early hours of the morning. But why? Yes, people were bored out of their minds, but could there be another reason why everyone found it difficult to fall asleep at their usual bedtimes? The answer is overexposure to blue light from your screens and lights.
It’s no secret that as technology advances in our world, humans are spending more time in front of screens for work, school, and extracurriculars. In 2019, before coronavirus existed, Scripps reported that the average adult spent an average of 11 hours in front of screens a day. This included time spent on your phone, computer screen, television, and any other type of screen you might encounter during your day.
When COVID-19 hit, the whole world shut down, forcing everyone to stay inside, making the time spent in front of screens increase exponentially. Everyone was bored, many were out of work, and children were home from school. You had to stay within the confines of your property, and because of this, screen use increased rapidly. iPhones send weekly usage reports to their users, which shows them exactly how time was spent on their phone, how much time per app, and the overall change from the previous week. According to The Washington Post, users were reporting a 30% to 200% increase in usage! Of course, this number ultimately depends on that user’s previous use but is still a shock nonetheless. We also have to remember that this number is only tracking your phone usage and doesn’t include the extra two movies a day you were squeezing in.
Now that quarantine is over, and things are starting to go back to normal, or as much as they can, things are definitely on the downturn, but people are still spending much time inside. School, which previously was in person for most students of all ages, is now online or partially online. Many employers are keeping their employees at home, making meetings that previously were in-person on-screen. These new circumstances all lead to an abundance of screen time no one was expecting, affecting our health.
Blue light is a short visible light wave on the color spectrum that produces high amounts of energy that cause eye strain, fatigue, headaches, and a reduction of melatonin production. I am sure everyone has felt one, if not all, of these symptoms as a result of spending too much time in front of screens. Lack of sleep or not sleeping well can make you unable to focus, anxious, and not to mention that lack of energy and motivation to do everyday tasks. To solve the lack of melatonin in your body, many turn to melatonin supplements, causing a wide range of side effects. Taking melatonin supplements can trick your body into not producing melatonin naturally, leaving you at a constant depletion because your body thinks it has enough.
These days we are continually using screens for school and work and use television and other screens to wind down at night. How is it possible to reduce our blue light exposure to allow our bodies to produce melatonin? In 2001, a discovery was made that we could still produce enough melatonin during the day without making any significant lifestyle changes. All we need is a way to reduce our blue light exposure in the hours leading up to our bedtime. To do this, 100% blue light blocking glasses were developed and have shown that using these glasses in the hours before you go to sleep can drastically increase your melatonin levels. Making this simple change in your life can allow you to be happier and healthier, even during COVID-19.
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