Technology means screens have become an integral part of our lives. How many hours each day do you look at a screen?
According to a report from Uswitch, UK adults spend half of every day in front of a screen. From working at a computer to browsing the internet on your phone or watching TV, screens play a role in how we work, relax, and communicate. Despite this, taking regular breaks from screens is important.
5 reasons to take a screen break
1. Help to prevent eye strain
Using digital technology won’t necessarily damage your eye health. However, it can cause eye strain as people tend to blink less when staring at a screen. This can cause your eyes to become tired and lead to symptoms such as headaches and dry eyes. Looking away from screens for just a few minutes can give your eyes the rest they need.
2. It can break up processes
If you’re using a screen at work or when you’re learning, it’s easy to lose track of time and find that you’ve been looking at a screen for hours. But taking a break can help you retain information and give you a chance to process what you’ve been working on.
While it can seem counterintuitive, stepping away from the screen for five minutes when you’re working on something can make the process more efficient and mean you’re getting more out of it.
3. Benefit from a different perspective
If you’ve been sitting at a screen for hours, you can sometimes find yourself stuck in a rut. Perhaps you’re trying to solve a problem but can’t find a solution. A break to have a cup of coffee, chat with a colleague, or go for a walk outdoors can help you be more creative and give you a new perspective.
It means you can come back to the screen feeling refreshed and ready to go.
4. It can help you embrace healthier habits
When you’re sitting at a screen, what is your posture like? Does it mean you put off exercising?
Relying on screens can mean unhealthy habits can creep in that could affect your wellbeing. Taking a break to stretch, walk around, and adjust how you’re sitting could improve your health. Making longer screen breaks part of your day also provides you with an opportunity to increase your exercise or focus on other areas of your life.
5. It could improve the quality of your sleep
If you find you struggle to fall asleep, technology could be playing a role. Electronics emit something called blue light, which can affect the brain’s production of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that controls your sleep cycle so disrupting it can affect your quality of sleep.
It’s suggested that you stop using electronic devices 30 minutes before you go to bed. So, rather than scrolling through your phone, read a book or find another way to relax.
How often should you take a screen break?
There’s no getting away from screens in modern life, but short, regular breaks can make a difference.
Ideally, it’s recommended that you take a 5–10 minute break from screens every hour. This can give you a break to stretch and refocus. Where possible, setting a timer to remind you to take a break if you’re engrossed in a project can help.
To reduce eye strain, there’s also the “20-20-20 rule”. This rule suggests that you should look away from screens every 20 minutes at an object that is around 20 feet away for a full 20 seconds. Making this part of your routine when using screens can reduce the chance you’ll experience the side effects of eye strain.