WebEx team meeting; Facetime happy hour; virtual yoga class… We’ve all been spending a little extra time in front of screens lately. While our screens offer a much-needed lifeline as we attempt to conduct life in isolation, they are also taking their toll.

If the crushing fear of a pandemic isn’t keeping you awake at night, the blue light emitted from your phone and laptop screens will. Blue light, which is also emitted from energy-efficient LED lights, is known to delay the body’s release of melatonin (the sleep-inducing hormone), increase alertness, and alter our circadian rhythm (the body’s natural clock). Some studies have even linked blue light to diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

With sleep playing such an important role in immunity and staying healthy, how should we approach the amount of indoor screen time in front of us?

“Switch off from time to time” says Dr Leena Johns, VP and Head of Health and Wellness, MAXIS Global Benefits Network (a joint venture between MetLife and AXA). Dr. Johns, who authored a white paper on sleep, advises monitoring the amount of time spent in front of screens as well as avoiding screens at certain times of the day - like in the hours before bed.

However, not all light is bad. Dr Johns says exposure to bright light during the daytime will not only boost your mood and alertness during the day, but also your ability to sleep well at night.

“I can’t overstate the importance of getting enough sleep for your overall health, wellbeing and productivity,” says Johns, adding that most people need seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

“Studies have shown that 17 hours of consecutive wakefulness is akin to a 0.05 percent blood alcohol reading, which is the legal limit for driving in many countries.”

Along with good hygiene and nutrition, sleep is one of the best defences we have right now – so power down and snuggle up!

Find out more about MetLife 360Health