A headache specialist has shared ten tips for avoiding headaches caused by excessive screen time.
As someone who specializes in treating headaches, I am aware that the causes of headaches can be multifaceted. However, many people are unaware that excessive screen time frequently triggers headaches.
Reports suggest that over two-thirds of computer users experience an increase in headaches. This is a concerning issue, considering one survey found that the average person spends six hours a day on a screen, equivalent to 84 days per year. Additionally, those who work from 9 to 5 may experience headache symptoms as early as 2 pm.
The prolonged use of screens, be it on a computer, phone, or tablet, can cause tension headaches as well as migraine headaches. The medical community refers to such headaches as "Computer Vision Syndrome."
One of the causes of tension headaches related to screens is often associated with eyestrain and dry eyes. Typically, we blink an average of 20 times per minute when not looking at a screen, but this frequency may decrease to only two blinks per minute during screen use.
For people who experience migraines, spending more time looking at screens can have adverse effects. It may either make an existing migraine worse or it could even cause a new migraine to occur. This is a common trigger for about one out of every six individuals who experience migraines.
Individuals that are more susceptible to headaches caused by screen use include those who are older, female, have a pre-existing sensitivity to light (with up to 75% of individuals who experience migraines having heightened sensitivity to light at all times), and those who already wear corrective glasses or contacts.
Those who have experienced traumatic brain injury or concussion may experience a more significant impact on headaches from screen time, with over 90% reporting worsened headaches or vision. Additionally, these patients may experience a slowed and delayed recovery correlating with increased screen time. This effect is even more pronounced for those using their computers or phones for 4-8 hours daily.
Blue and green light frequencies can often cause headaches, making it hard to avoid since most visible light falls within that range of 480 nanometers. This includes sunlight, fluorescent lights, and the screens of electronic devices such as computers, phones, and televisions that emit blue light.
It can be problematic for those who experience headaches that blue light can negatively affect their sleep patterns and bodily functions. The hypothalamus, a part of the brain, releases melatonin when you are exposed solely to sunlight during sunset, and this hormone is then converted into serotonin. Migraines are often linked to irregularities with serotonin in the brain, which may be why excessive screen time can trigger a migraine. When exposed to artificial light sources like screens and fluorescent lights, less melatonin is produced, resulting in increased headaches.\
Acknowledging that reducing or eliminating screen time is challenging for many individuals is important. That being said, there are some helpful tips to minimize the risk of headaches caused by prolonged screen exposure.
It is undeniable that screen time has become a crucial aspect of contemporary living. However, adhering to these recommendations and being mindful of how screens affect your body can aid in lessening the frequency and severity of headaches associated with screen use. You can contact Mobi Doctor for help or advice if you need it.