7 May, 2021

Seeing sense

17 May, 2019

With the need to become and remain successful in today’s highly competitive professional world, the reliance on various forms of information technology has never been greater. This is, of course, all well and good if you have the right IT applications for the jobs at hand and positive results are achieved. However, there are several high-profile concerns related to computer usage – security being one of the bigger ones. There are also certain IT issues that arguably don’t get the profile they deserve. One of these is quite simply the need to take regular screen breaks.


According to a study conducted this year by 4Com Media polling 1000 UK working professional adults in the UK, our nation’s workers are jeopardising their sleep quality by spending 85% of their waking hours staring at screens. With the Sleep Council recommending that people get 8 hours of sleep on a night, that leaves 16 waking hours every day, of which Brits are spending an average of 13.57 of these looking at a screen (representing 85% of those waking hours).

New research by ophthalmic services provider Optegra Eye Health Care found that British workers are spending an average of 13 hours and 34 minutes a day looking at screens while at work, commuting and at home. Interestingly, the study states employees are spending an average of 55 hours 36 minutes a month staring at a screen while commuting, when they could be giving their eyes a much-needed rest.

Probably most concerning for readers of this journal is that, according to the Optegra study, engineers are the professionals that spend the most time staring at a screen throughout their day. On average, engineers are looking at screens for 7 hours and 16 minutes at work, 5 hours and 22 minutes while commuting and 6 hours and 3 minutes while at home. The top five professions that are spending the most time looking at screens throughout the day are engineers (18 hours 40 minutes); IT specialists (18 and a half hours); accountants (13 hours 20 minutes); teachers (12 hours 27 minutes); and admin staff (9 hours 28 minutes).

Research has found that excessive blue light exposure suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles, more than any other type of light. It will come as little surprise then that engineers are also the people whose sleep suffers the most, with 72% agreeing that too much screen time during the day affects their sleep. Engineers were followed by two thirds (66%) of IT specialists, nearly half (45%) of teachers, two fifths (40%) of accountants and just over a third (34%) of admin staff saying that too much screen time affects their sleep.

It would appear that it is not only sleep that is affected by a high amount of time looking at a screen. According to the Optegra study, employees blame issues such as headaches, dry eyes and stress or anxiety on too much screen time. The top five complaints employees have experienced as a result of too much screen time are tired eyes/eye strain (59%); headaches (40%); dry eyes (37%); disturbed sleep (31%); and stress/anxiety (17%).




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