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Blue-Light Filtering Glasses Can Improve Performance During COVID

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
Blue-light from screens cause fatigue in employees.

Increased exposure to blue wavelengths due to increased screen time during COVID just might be affecting your performance. Here’s how blue-light filtering glasses and knowing when is the best time to wear them, might solve this problem.

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There is a significant amount of scientific evidence that increased time spent in front of the screen of computers, smartphones and tablets results in blue-light wavelength exposure that can disrupt our normal circadian rhythms. In fact, this disruption is believed to affect melatonin levels—a natural hormone in the body responsible for inducing sleep—that not only can cause weight gain, but also hinder performance.

According to a news release from Indiana University, researchers have hypothesized that wearing blue-light glasses just before sleeping can lead to a better night's sleep and contribute to a better day's work to follow. This is especially relevant as the pandemic has led to significantly increased screen time exposure related to binge watching TV and online streaming, working from home, and online learning.

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"We found that wearing blue-light-filtering glasses is an effective intervention to improve sleep, work engagement, task performance and organizational citizenship behavior, and reduced counterproductive work behavior," said Cristiano L. Guarana, assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business.

"Wearing blue-light-filtering glasses creates a form of physiologic darkness, thus improving both sleep quantity and quality."

In a study titled “The effects of blue-light filtration on sleep and work outcomes” published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, Guarana and his colleagues report that when study participants from two separate trials were randomly chosen to wear either test glasses that filtered blue light or non-light filtering placebo glasses, that those who wore the blue-light filtering glasses performed markedly better than those wearing the placebo glasses.

"In general, the effects of wearing blue-light-filtering glasses were stronger for 'night owls' than for 'morning larks,'" said Guarana, who previously has studied how lack of sleep affects business decisions, relationships and other behaviors in organizations. "Owls tend to have sleep periods later in the day, whereas larks tend to have sleep periods early in the day.

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While individuals may find themselves benefitting from wearing blue-light-filtering glasses, the potential for providing businesses with a cost-effective means of improving employee performance that translates into a significant return on investment, could give employers and the economy a much-needed bump-up in profits, while improving employee health and working conditions.

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"Although most of us can benefit from reducing our exposure to blue light, owl employees seem to benefit more because they encounter greater misalignments between their internal clock and the externally controlled work time. Our model highlights how and when wearing blue-light-filtering glasses can help employees to live and work better."

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"Blue-light exposure should also be of concern to organizations," Guarana said. "The ubiquity of the phenomenon suggests that control of blue-light exposure may be a viable first step for organizations to protect the circadian cycles of their employees from disruption."

Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Today, with an eye on the latest news, Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on what you need to know for healthier living. For continual updates about health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.

Image Source: Courtesy of Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash

References:

Blue-light glasses improve sleep and work productivity, IU research shows” Indiana University, News at IU Bloomington 15 Oct. 2020.

The effects of blue-light filtration on sleep and work outcomes” Cristiano L Guarana et al, Journal of Applied Psychology, 13 July 2020, online ahead of print.

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