Of the many things that affect your daily productivity, the constant use of technology can be an important one. And in some ways, you may not have guessed.
Depending on which study you read, your sleep can suffer if you’re constantly glued to a screen before bed for work or personal reasons – which is inevitable during the pandemic when most of the communication is on a screen.
How come? The blue light on our phones, tablets, and laptops can compromise the quality of sleep needed to function optimally and often make us grumpy, snappy, and less productive the next day.
All light sources, including fluorescent lamps and LED lights, emit blue light that can distract the human body from its natural internal clock, the so-called circadian rhythm. This happens because our brain perceives the presence of bright light indoors as daylight and stops releasing the melatonin hormone, which is responsible for regulating the body’s 24-hour sleep-wake cycle.
A simple and inexpensive solution to recovering the disturbed sleep cycle, as suggested in a new study, is to wear glasses that filter blue light before the short but energetic wavelengths reach the retina. Glasses that block blue light are abundant in the market and can be purchased online under various brand names. Whether or not blue light blocking lenses work is still a question according to a review from 2017.
In a study recently published in July in the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers at Indiana University’s (IU) Kelley School of Business and the University of Washington’s (UW) Foster School of Business found that filtering blue light resulted in a good night’s sleep Improving job performance the next morning is crucial.
Two US multinational corporations based in Brazil, one with 63 senior executives and one with 67 call center staff, tested the blue light filter eye equipment. Half of the participants were randomly given the filter glasses and had to wear them for up to two hours before going to sleep for a week. The other half received placebo glasses that looked similar but did not have light filter lenses.
Managers slept better with blue light filter glasses
Compared to those who wore the placebo glasses, the study’s managers said they slept 5% longer and improved sleep quality by 14% after wearing blue-light filter glasses. This had a positive effect on the way managers work and how they deal with employees.
The survey found that managers who wore the glasses showed 8.51% more commitment to work and 17.29% more helpfulness than usual, while their negative attitude was reduced by 11.78%.
The glasses helped because, unlike any other light, blue light has the most powerful effects on the eyes, study co-author Christopher M. Barnes, PhD, professor of management at UW Business School, said in a press release.
“By filtering out blue light, much of the suppressive effects of light on melatonin production are removed, allowing the evening melatonin surge to occur and thereby enabling the process of falling asleep,” said Dr. Barnes.
Call Center Employees Improved customer satisfaction
Study participants who worked in the call center said wearing the blue-light dimming glasses also helped them sleep better than those who received the placebo. They said they slept 6% longer and 11% better.
The call center staff also showed an 8.25% increase in engagement at work. They became 17.82% more helpful, which in turn reduced negative work behavior by 11.76%. The customer ratings also increased by 9% compared to participants who wore the placebo glasses.
Call center workers have more to gain by blocking blue light as they often work until the wee hours of the morning. The researchers found that the glasses were more helpful for people who stay up late than for morning larks who go to bed early and get up early.
“While most of us can benefit from less exposure to blue light, owl workers seem to benefit more as they encounter major misalignments between their internal clock and externally controlled work hours,” said Cristiano L. Guarana, assistant professor at Department of Management and Entrepreneurship at the IU Business School, says the press release.
Other studies are not so sure
The 2017 review differs from the above results. The review states that “there is currently no high quality clinical evidence to show a beneficial effect of blue-blocking glasses in reducing eye fatigue”.
Other researchers agree. Amir Mohsenin, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the Ruiz Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science at McGovern Medical School in Houston, said he doesn’t think blue-light glasses help at all.
“We don’t have data to support blue goggles as they’re better for your eyes when you’re using a computer. In fact, I’d say we don’t know if wearing blue block glasses could do any harm. It’s hard to recommend something without knowing more details about it, ”said Dr. Mohsenin in a January press release from the Texas Medical Center in Houston.
The take away
According to the Cleveland Clinic, buying blue glasses at prices between $ 10 and $ 100 may not help.
Rishi Singh, MD, an ophthalmologist at the Cole Eye Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, said that digital eye strain can be caused by a variety of reasons, including insufficient blinking when staring at a screen. Dr. Singh suggested sitting 25 inches from the screen. He also recommended the “20-20-20” rule: stop eye contact with the screen every 20 minutes for 20 seconds and focus on something at least 20 feet away.
When we focus our eyes on something close, like a screen or even a book, our eyes are tense and contracted, which can lead to eye discomfort. But when you look forward to a distant object, our eyes relax, ”said Dr. Singh.
Seema Prasad is a freelance health reporter based in Bengaluru, India. She tweeted @SeemaPrasad_me