How Much Screen Time Is Too Much?
Like having the urge to dip back into a box of chocolates one last time or hitting next episode while binging a boxset when you really should be sleeping, we are all guilty of spending a lot of time looking at screens.
Think of the average day of an office worker. You might sit on your phone during your commute, spend the majority of an eight hour day looking at your computer screen, sit on your phone for the commute home, and then look at your phone while watching TV. Oh, and that’s before you have one final check in bed.
The old adage when kids sat in front of a TV was that their eyes would go square. Now it seems that adults eyes are losing a sense of time and space from overexposure to devices, especially those which emit blue light wavelengths.
A question we get asked a lot by Kanturo customers concerning screen time is “How much is too much?” It’s hard to say based on the individual, but there are clear signs to know when you’re overdoing it and what you can do to help.
In this short post, we’re going to be answering some questions related to screen time usage and why our blue light glasses may be something to try out.
What really is the average amount of time we spend looking at screens?
We can be creatures of habit, and with Nielsen estimating that “adults spend over 11 hours per day listening to, watching, reading or generally interacting with media”, we’re allowing ourselves to spend an ungodly amount of time looking at screens.
Bear in mind, if you’re lucky enough to be getting a solid eight sleep every night, it means there are only 3 hours of your day when you’re wide awake which don’t involve looking at a screen.
How much screen time is too much for adults?
Research is always looking for a definite number for adults. While as close to zero is really what kids should be aiming for, adults tend to need to have screens around to work and to get things done.
Screen time for adults usually happens as part of a sedentary action, and it helps if you can make the connections between doing something physical and making sure there isn’t a screen in the way.
What effects does too much screen time have on the brain?
Spending too long in front of a screen can:
- cause eye strain
- make you feel restless
- make you feel tired
- reduce melatonin secretion (helps regulate your sleep cycles)
Why is blue light bad for you?
Truth be told, a little exposure to blue light isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Prolonged exposure, though, can see issues start to arise. Think of it as a disruptor to your circadian rhythm. The wavelengths from blue light act as a disruptive signal which tell your brain that it is time to be awake.
Blue light, when you’re outside during the day, is great because it’s naturally making you feel awake and helping you be more attentive. Where the problem starts for most of us is from the reliance on looking at screens after it gets dark. You could be sitting on your sofa and looking at your phone while watching TV, or aimlessly scrolling through your phone in bed when all the lights are off.
In instances like this, you’re sending those blue light signals to receptors that are being disrupted from their usual behaviour. It can also be disruptive in the long term too. As pointed out by Harvard Health Publishing, “Some studies suggest a link between exposure to light at night, such as working the night shift, to some types of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.” Now it doesn’t make it a definite cause, but it helps highlight the need to be aware of your exposure and work on ways to reduce it.
What is happening in the eye when you’re exposed to blue light?
Most of your eye is doing its job as always. It’s just that your retina in the back is the one having a hard time of it.
When we sit in bed and look at screens, blue light is hitting the retina in the same way natural light does during the day. Your retina is getting signals that equate to “YES, IT’S THE TIME OF DAY TO BE AWAKE” while you’re less than an hour away from wanting to sleep for the night.
Intense exposure could hurt your retina over time. As this field of research is still in its infancy, there’s no correlation yet that blue light exposure would lead to cataracts.
So it’s easiest to wear my sunglasses at night?
While it is a catchy song, sunglass at night won’t do much help. They block out UV rays from getting near your retinas. Blue light has a lower wavelength than UV, so it can still pass through lenses of sunglasses and get to the back of your eye.
That’s why someone looking to bring those levels down should consider blue light blocking glasses instead.
What can blue light glasses do?
The glasses in the Kanturo collection act as a barrier for blue light wavelengths. It’s easiest to think of them as sunglasses blocking rays that you’d otherwise stare right at without knowing they’re disrupting your patterns.
Blue light glasses help minimise the effect of blue light, especially if you’re someone who tends to be on their phone in the evenings or plays games on your phone (which typically default to full brightness) when commuting. Your body needs to wind down in the evening before sleep, and the longer it gets between blue light exposure and going to bed, the easier it is to fall asleep.
You can read more about blue light and its affect on sleep in our recent blog post here.
Should I wear blue light glasses if I know how much is too much?
You don’t want to put these glasses on only when you start to feel the strain. These can be used preventively throughout the day whilst you’re looking at screens. We even advise trying your best not to use screens the closer you get to bedtime so you can allow your body to let itself switch off more easily.
How can I find more information on blue light?
Read all about blue right here.