Working From Home: Zoom Calls & Blue Light Exposure
Are you having trouble sleeping? It might be those 10 hours you spent on Zoom today.
We used to grumble through could-have-been-emails meetings. There’s even an entire office accessories retail business built around the meme. But now that they are all emails or video meetings, quite a few of us are longing for an in-person, all-hands meeting. Add to that all of our coffee dates, happy hours, book clubs, spiritual gatherings, exercise classes, children’s schooling, and family get-togethers, and that’s a lot of time on Zoom. (Unless it’s Bluejeans, join.me, or google hangouts.) And, wow, we’re feeling it.
Issue #1: We have not been sleeping well.
We need more zzzs, and it could be because blue light, also called High Energy Visible Light (HEVL), is emitted from LEDs and screens of all types (TVs, computers, tablets, and smartphones). Blue light can interfere with circadian rhythms to disrupt sleep, and it also negatively impact the skin. The amount of light emitted is not harmful, but it can be uncomfortable and/or disruptive to many. So while our poor sleep health could be from a lot of things, including that we’re feeling effects of Covid-19 related uncertainty, causing us to be stressed, anxious and overwhelmed, our now-constant exposure to blue light is not doing us any favors. There are blue light blocking glasses available — but limiting screen time at night is probably your best, and healthiest, bet.
Issue #2: Unhappy skin.
Blue light also impacts the skin to cause photoaging, similarly to UV radiation. And though it has far less of an impact than UV rays, it’s worth considering adding a layer of blue light protection to your skin care if you’re logging many hours a day in front of your computer, tablet, TV, or smartphone. A recent article in Harper’s Bazaar breaks this down for consumers who are growing increasingly concerned about the impact of heightened screen time. According to search data, interest in the effects of blue light has steadily risen since mid-March, which is also when states began issuing stay-at-home and safer-at-home orders, and more people started working from home as a social distancing measure. Google Trends shows that on March 15, interest was a 22 — whereas by April 6, two days before writing this post, interest climbed up to 100, peak popularity for the search term.
Tip #1: Schedule yourself some blue light breaks.
The general suggestion for everyone — kids and adults — is to avoid screens in the hours before bedtime. But for some of us, this is when we catch up on emails we missed during dinner time or swap out our computer screen for the TV screen in an effort to wind down. Mintel’s March 2020 report What COVID-19 means for wellbeing in Latin America points out that as societies grapple with anxiety and loneliness, brands can raise awareness about blue light protection and encourage digital detox while promoting beauty rituals to help improve mood.
Tip #2: Add blue light protection.
Blue light protection can come in the form of blue light filtering glasses, screen protectors, apps, and of course, skin care. Pre-Covid-19 pandemic in the US, blue light protection was predicted to be a notable 2020 skin care trend, according to a February Mintel report, The Future of Facial Skincare: 2020. Mintel spotlighted that “pairing science with increased consumer recognition about blue light would make the blue light protection claim a go-to staple for choosing anti-aging facial skincare in US and European markets.” Fast-forward to now, a long two months later, and that is even more likely. Mintel’s March 2020 report What COVID-19 means for wellbeing in Latin America highlights that “screen-based lifestyles are bringing new needs… As quarantine measures continue, there will be opportunities to raise awareness of blue light exposure and to position products that promote blue light protection.” Blue light protection can come as part of a multifunctional tinted BB/CC cream, which also has the added benefit of smoothing complexion for all those Zoom meetings which people are trying to figure out how to dress and get “ready” for.
Making Adjustments for the New Normal
COVID-19 has brought a number of unexpected challenges to our personal and professional lives. And with self-quarantining becoming the new normal, at least for the time being, we’re all making peace with how to juggle work and private lives in the comfort (or discomfort) of our now-very-public homes. This has been made even more challenging by the new tasks that have been added to the mix, like a new home cleaning regimen, preparing 3 daily meals at home, and maybe even virtual learning or homeschooling. We’re all struggling (some more hilariously than others) but there is at least one major upshot: if we lead with humor, generosity, empathy, and science, we can provide each other with the tools necessary to thrive.