November 30, 2020 - Podcast

Episode 64—Tips for making staying at home better: wear blue-light glasses, and clean the house!

During the pandemic, our screen time has sharply increased, as many of us are working and learning from home as well as binge-watching TV. But that binging may be damaging our sleep. New research from Indiana University finds that wearing blue-light glasses just before bed can lead to a better night's sleep and contribute to a better day's work to follow. Most of the technology we commonly use -- such as computer screens, smartphones and tablets -- emits blue light, which past research has found can disrupt sleep. We’ve become highly dependent on these devices, especially as we navigate remote work and school during the coronavirus pandemic. Wearing blue-light-filtering glasses is an effective intervention to improve sleep, work engagement, and task performance, and reduce counterproductive work behavior, says Cristiano Guarana, a professor at the IU Kelley School of Business. The IU research found the effects of wearing blue-light-filtering glasses were stronger for 'night owls' than for 'morning larks’. Although most of us can benefit from reducing our exposure to blue light, Guarana says night owl workers seem to benefit more because they encounter greater misalignments between their internal clocks and externally controlled work time. The research also found that daily engagement and task performance may be related to underlying biological processes such as the circadian process, so a good night's sleep may not only benefit workers, but also help their employers' bottom lines. Control of blue-light exposure may be a viable first step for organizations to protect the circadian cycles of their employees from disruption.

And all these months of staying at home have meant more housecleaning, which is a good thing, according to Indiana University’s Nicole Keith. Keith, who is president of the American College of Sports Medicine and a professor in the School of Health & Human Sciences at IUPUI, points out that as we tackle our to-do lists, we’re also moving large groups of muscles, engaging in physical activity that makes us feel better and has a positive impact on our health. Being physically active while we keep our homes tidy may reduce our chances of developing risk factors for cardiovascular disease and also reduce the effect of risk factors that we already have. And house cleaning is good for our mental health as well, says Keith. While vacuuming, organizing, and cleaning out the garage gets our heart rates going, the sense of accomplishment in completing those tasks also makes us feel good. Cleaning, during a pandemic or otherwise, is simply good for our bodies and our brains.