Tossing & turning at bed time? It could be down to the likes of your phone & computer...

Between catching up on emails, video calling colleagues, and texting friends and family, our eyes get little-to-no break from screens.

From headaches and dry eyes right the way through to disrupted sleep and anxiety, here’s everything you need to know about the s-word (screens!).

Screen time & eye strain

These days, digital screens are the gateway to work, entertainment, shopping and socialising. So, it’s no surprise that many of us are experiencing symptoms of eye strain, like:

• Blurred vision

• Difficulty focusing

• Double vision
• Dry eyes
• Headaches
• Increased sensitivity to light
• Itchy eyes
• Tired eyes
• Watery eyes

Although eye strain can feel uncomfortable, it tends to go away once you’ve given your eyes a rest. If you’re particularly worried, you should book to see an opticianFind your nearest Boots Opticians here.

Whether you’re doing your weekly Zoom quiz, or you’ve been sucked into the latest series on Netflix, here are some top tips on how to reduce eye strain.

Use the 20/20/20 rule

Not heard of it? Let’s explain! Every 20 minutes or so, try to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. To help you remember, you could set a timer.

Blink, blink, blink

Blinking helps to moisten your eyes and prevent dryness and irritation. However, when we stare at screens, lots of us tend to blink less often. If you’re guilty as charged (we know we are!), try to make blinking even more of a habit.

Go low

Try to make sure the brightness on your device is set to the lowest comfortable level. It should be fairly similar to the light surrounding you.

Get outdoors

Spending time outside will give your eyes a break from the two-dimensional screen world. Plus, it’s great for your mental health, too. We have more tips on how to take care or your mental health over here.

Stay hydrated

Water is key for every aspect of your health, including your eye health.

Helping to keep your water nice and chilly for up to 24 hours, why not treat yourself to a Chilly’s Bottle? They’re definitely worth the hype!

Screen time & sleep

While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying some screen time (who doesn’t love Instagram?), looking at screens too close to bed time could wreak havoc with your sleep.

First, let’s talk about the blue light.

When it gets dark outside, our brains produce a hormone called melatonin which helps prepare our bodies for snoozing. The blue light that’s emitted from our (beloved!) screens could delay the release of melatonin, making it harder for us to drift off. Our advice? Try to avoid screens for an hour or so before you hit the hay. If you really need to sneak a look, you could download a blue light filter for your devices.

Next, let’s discuss switching off.

We’ve all been there. We’re just settling in for the night, and then bam! An email from your boss. These days, work doesn’t necessarily finish when we walk out of the office (or home office). Having constant access to your emails can really take its toll and make it tricky to switch off come bed time. By muting your notifications after a certain time, you’ll give your brain plenty of time to unwind. We can’t get enough of the ‘Do Not Disturb’ setting!

Screen time & mental health

Love it or hate it, social media is a huge part of our day-to-day lives.

In some ways, it can support our mental health, letting us connect with loved ones near and far. But it can also have a huge impact on our self-esteem and overall mood. Whether it’s a reality TV star showcasing their (overly!) edited selfie, or an influencer flaunting their brand new wardrobe, lots of us get wrapped up thinking, ’why can’t my life be like that?’.

If that sounds all too familiar, take some time to go through your feed and work out what’s making you feel good and what’s not. Remember – the unfollow button is there for a reason!

Screen time & children

Just like us adults, too much screen time for kids could cause eye strain and disrupt sleep, not to mention contributing to self-esteem troubles. That’s not all, though. It’s thought that myopia (AKA short-sightedness) could be linked to focusing on nearby objects – like phones or computers – for long periods during childhood. The key takeaway? Try to encourage little ones to take plenty of screen breaks and engage in lots of non-digital activities. Swing ball, anyone? Oh, and remember to keep on top of your child’s annual optician’s appointments – it’s especially important while they’re developing.

Although there’s no hard and fast rule for how many hours a day a child can use screens, it’s a great idea to keep tabs and set reasonable limits. Maybe set some limits for yourself while you’re at it, too!

Whether you head out for a walk or pick up that jigsaw that’s been gathering dust for weeks on end, take some much-need time away from your screen – your body and mind will thank you for it.