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How To Protect Your Skin From Excessive Blue Light Screen Exposure

Now that most of us are experiencing what it’s like to work from home for the first time, it’s important to understand the health effects that staring at a screen for a majority of the day can have. We’re all aware of the fact that staying on the internet for too long can have detrimental effects to your mental health, and how the blue light that’s emitted from our screens can cause us to lose sleep and stay engaged online for longer, however, did you also know that the same blue light can take a toll on your skin?

Blue light, or high-energy visible (HEV) light, is primarily from the sun, but it’s also emitted by our phone, tablet, and computer screens. While blue light can at times be beneficial, like for killing bacteria and treating acne, being exposed to too much of it can also prompt the formation of free radicals, which break down collagen and cause inflammation, leading to redness, dark spots, and wrinkles. It can also darken hyper-pigmentation, especially in deeper skin tones, so it’s important to protect skin from its powers in the same way we do from the sun,” explains dermatologist Deanne Robinson, MD.

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One of the easiest solutions to combat the blue light that’s absorbed into our skin is making sure you’re ingesting enough antioxidants and, surprisingly, broad-spectrum sunscreen. No matter what you should always be putting on sunscreen/SPF every day especially in the morning. Even though you might not go outside throughout the day, especially during this pandemic, SPF’s help improve your skin’s hyper-pigmentation, prevents premature aging, and now, protects your skin barrier from blue light absorption. 

In terms of ingesting antioxidants, Dr. Robinson explains that “antioxidants do not physically block the light, rather they work to neutralize oxidative stress caused by the light.” Basically, your skin gets “stressed out” the longer you look at blue light, which leads to all of those detrimental effects, so antioxidants may not stop the blue light from absorbing into your skin, but it will stop your skin from reacting negatively to the light. 

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, “most of the blue light we’re exposed to comes from the sun, but as research continues to show, we are spending more than half of our waking hours interacting with devices and are therefore exposed to more blue light now than at any other point in history. Luckily, there are plenty of products that provide blue light protection and help shield skin from its harmful effects.”

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Some of these products that the AAO is referring to involve skin serums, sunscreens and moisturizers that are designed to combat negative effects caused by blue light exposure. Serums or other skin care products that have hyaluronic acid are extremely beneficial for this as well. Hyaluronic acid is an amazing way to hydrate your skin in general, and it should be a part of your skin care routine anyway, but one of the many benefits of it is that it hydrates your skin immensely. When your skin is properly hydrated, it’s less likely to “stress,” and remember, there’s no such thing as “over-hydrating” your skin, so be generous. 

When looking for a sunscreen you want to choose a formula that’s described as “broad-spectrum,” has minerals, and has an SPF of at least 30. Broad-spectrum means it protects your skin from multiple kinds of light (such as blue) and the minerals will give your skin a direct hit of antioxidants as well. 

Skin care may be the last thing on some of our minds, but just because we’re not out in public everyday doesn’t mean that our skin’s health needs to suffer too, so what are you waiting for? Stop reading this and go put on some sunscreen!

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Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Though we tend to focus our attention on events that transpire during our waking lives, we spend roughly a third of our lives sleeping. Sleep is an often-overlooked part of life that affects nearly all aspects of human health and well-being, but many of us neglect to prioritize a goods night’s sleep, often erroneously thinking that we can be more productive during the day if we spend less time sleeping. While caffeine can temporarily mitigate the effects of poor sleep, sleeping poorly for a long period of time is linked to a number of health problems, including depressed mood and increased risk of heart disease and obesity. As such, this article will discuss several strategies you can use to improve the quality of your sleep so you can enjoy a more alert and productive waking experience.

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The practices associated with high-quality sleep are referred to as “sleep hygiene,” and include a number of important behaviors, all of which are essential for sufficient rest. Perhaps the most important factor is limiting your use of electronic devices in bed or near bedtime. Ideally, usage of electronic devices should be eliminated before going to sleep, as electronic devices with light-emitting screens stimulate the mind and make it difficult to rest. However, if it’s not possible to avoid using electronics late at night, it may be helpful to activate a blue-light filter on your computer, phone, or other device. These filters tint the screen to a reddish-orange hue, reducing the output of blue light which is thought to inhibit sleep by reducing the body’s production of melatonin. In general, the bed should only be used for sleep and sex, as setting these boundaries helps to create an association in your mind between being in bed and falling asleep, subconsciously helping you to fall asleep faster.

Conditions like depression and anxiety can wreak havoc on your sleep/wake cycle, causing you to get too few or too many hours of sleep and sleep at inappropriate times

Making various lifestyle changes can also help to improve sleep quality. Two of the most important lifestyle factors that contribute to sleep quality, as well as overall health, are diet and exercise. Tiring yourself out for a half hour or more of strenuous exercise per day not only improves your cardiovascular health and strength, but it can also relieve anxiety and stress, reduce tension, and prepare the body and mind for sleep. While exercising immediately before going to bed probably isn’t a good idea, exercising earlier in the day can help you feel more tired and prone to sleep later in the night. The food you eat also affects your sleep; eating a large meal immediately before going to bed can keep you awake as your body uses energy to digest food, whereas a diet high in sugar could cause you to wake up several times throughout the night. A healthy diet that includes fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat proteins can not only help you maintain a healthy weight but also improve the quality of your sleep. Be mindful of foods that cause heartburn, as any heartburn sufferer knows that it can prevent you from going to sleep.

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Good psychological health is also important for quality sleep. Conditions like depression and anxiety can wreak havoc on your sleep/wake cycle, causing you to get too few or too many hours of sleep and sleep at inappropriate times, so if you’re experiencing symptoms of mental illness, be sure to seek treatment from your health care provider, as these illnesses can often be treated with therapy and medication. One of the actions you can take to improve your mental health, alongside diet and exercise, is to begin a mindfulness meditation practice, which can reduce stress and negative emotions by training the brain to observe experiences with openness and acceptance. Another good way to support mental health is to maintain a regular daily routine, ensuring that you wake up, eat, exercise, and go to bed at the same time every day. Doing so will naturally support the body’s circadian rhythms, helping you to feel tired enough at night to fall asleep quickly and alert enough in the morning to start your day.