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The Science Behind Digital Fatigue: Why Does It Happen?

Digital Fatigue. It’s Real.

Are you feeling exhausted after spending hours on your computer? You’re not alone. Digital fatigue is something that more and more people are suffering from, especially people who spend hours on video meetings.

So what is digital fatigue? Simply put, it’s a feeling of tiredness and lack of energy that comes from using digital devices such as computers, laptops, and smartphones. This fatigue can be mental or physical, leading to symptoms such as headaches, blurred vision, neck pain, and insomnia.

These recent statistics demonstrate the growing digital fatigue problem:

  • According to a Deloitte research report published last year, 32% of US consumers say they’ve been feeling overwhelmed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic by the number of subscriptions and devices they’re required to manage.
  • A 2021 EY survey of 17,500 households across the US, UK, Canada, Germany, France, and Italy found that digital fatigue has driven 47% of consumers to seek downtime from internet-enabled devices.

Why Does Digital Fatigue Happen?

There are a few scientific explanations for why digital fatigue occurs. First, looking at a screen for long periods can lead to eye strain and dry eyes. This is because we tend to blink less when looking at screens, which can make our eyes feel tired and irritated.

Second, spending too much time on digital devices can lead to neck and upper back pain. This is because we often hunch over our laptops and phones, which strains our muscles and joints.

Third, digital devices emit blue light, disrupting our natural sleep cycle. Blue light exposure late at night can make it difficult to fall asleep, leaving us feeling exhausted the next day.

Fourth, being constantly connected can lead to mental fatigue. When we continuously check our phones or email, we expend a lot of mental energy. This can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress.

Finally, too much screen time can be isolating. We may miss critical social interactions if we spend all our time on digital devices. This isolation can lead to increased stress and anxiety.

Is Working from Home a Risk for Digital Fatigue?

The pandemic has forced many people to work from home, increasing screen time for many. Today, the average office worker spends over 10 hours per day in front of a screen. This is a significant increase from the pre-pandemic average of six and a half hours.

There are a few reasons why working from home may be a risk factor for digital fatigue. First, people working from home often have more flexible hours, which means they may work later into the evening or on weekends. This can lead to increased screen time and less time for physical activity or relaxation.

Second, people who work from home may find it more challenging to disconnect from work. We are always connected with technology such as laptops and smartphones, and it can be hard to switch off. This constant connection can lead to mental fatigue and make it difficult to relax or sleep.

Third, as we’ve mentioned above, too much screen time can be isolating, and working from home can make you feel even more isolated. People used to working in an office may feel lonely and disconnected when working from home. This isolation can lead to increased screen time as people try to connect with friends and family online.

How Can You Identify Digital Fatigue?

There are a few key signs that you may be suffering from digital fatigue. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it may be time to take a break from your screens:

  1. Feeling exhausted after spending time on your computer or phone
  2. Headaches or neck pain after using digital devices
  3. Blurred vision or eye strain
  4. Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
  5. Anxiety or stress from being constantly connected
  6. Feeling isolated or lonely from too much time spent online
  7. Worsening mood or irritability

What Can You Do to Reduce Digital Fatigue?

If you are suffering from digital fatigue, there are a few things you can do to reduce your symptoms:

  1. Take breaks throughout the day: Get up and move around every 20 minutes or so to give your eyes a break from screens.
  2. Adjust your screen time: Try to limit your screen time to two hours or less per day.
  3. Use artificial tears: If you suffer from dry eyes, use artificial tears to help lubricate your eyes and reduce irritation.
  4. Improve your posture: Make sure you sit straight and not hunched over your laptop or phone. This will help reduce neck pain and upper back pain. And it will bring clarity to your consciousness.
  5. Reduce blue light exposure at night: Avoid using screens for at least an hour before bedtime to give your body time to wind down. Also, you can download a blue light filter for your computer or phone to reduce the amount of blue light exposure late at night.
  6. Take breaks from social media: If you find that social media is causing you anxiety or stress, take a break from it for a few days. See how you feel after taking some time away from your digital devices.
  7. Connect with others offline: Spend time with loved ones and friends without screens to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Digital fatigue is real. It can lead to serious health problems if not addressed. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms we’ve listed above, take some time to reduce your screen time and give your mind and body a break. Your health will thank you for it!

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