4 ways too much screen time can affect your energy

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Qualified Nutritionist (BSc, MSc, RNutr)
Ask Emma

16 January 2020

Screen time is on the rise

According to research, the average screen time in the UK is 3 hours and 23 minutes per day.1 Over the years our daily screen time has increased due to the rise of technology, plus more and more of us have jobs that require us to use a computer on a daily basis. As well as this, young children are regularly using electronic devices such as tablets and mobile phones for games and communication.

Too much screen time can have a negative impact on your energy levels so today I'm going to talk about why this the case.

4 common reasons why too much screen time can affect your energy levels include the following:

  • Decreased melatonin production
  • Abnormal cortisol levels
  • Computer vision syndrome
  • Reduced gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) production.

1. Screen time affects melatonin production

LED lights are commonly used in TV's, mobiles, tablets and computer screens. These LED's are usually full of shortwave length light (blue light) which decreases melatonin production. Melatonin is known as the "sleepy hormone" since it is produced at night and it plays a key role in adjusting your body clock.

Research has shown that two hours exposure to blue light significantly decreased melatonin production.2 This is problematic as insufficient melatonin levels can lead to fatigue and lack of energy.

What can you do?

Try to reduce your screen time before going to bed to ensure that you produce enough melatonin to help you fall asleep. Reading before going to bed is associated with calmness and can help to reduce stress. Rather than reading on your tablet or mobile, however, why not try reading a paperback book? This will allow you to enjoy the benefits of reading without decreasing your melatonin production.

2. Abnormal cortisol levels

Excessive screen time is associated with increasing cortisol levels.3 Cortisol is known as our stress hormone since it plays an important role in helping the body respond to stress. As I have mentioned in many previous blogs, high levels of cortisol have been linked to reduced energy levels and poor sleep.

What can you do?

If you find yourself regularly scrolling through Facebook, or you play games consoles for hours at a time, you may find that you're lacking in energy and feel sluggish. Try to avoid excessive screen time in the evening to avoid high cortisol and stress levels.

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3. Excessive screen time can hurt your eyes

These days most of us have jobs that require us to use computers on a daily basis. This is problematic as staring at a computer screen for long periods of time can strain your eyes and may even lead to computer vision syndrome. Symptoms of computer vision syndrome include headaches, fatigue and blurred vision, plus it can leave you feeling sluggish.

What can you do?

Below I have listed some handy tips on how you can help prevent computer vision syndrome:

  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule. Look away from the screen every 20 minutes or so and look at something around 20 feet away for about 20 seconds.
  • Adjust the brightness, font size and contrast of your computer screen to suit you.
  • Position your computer screen at arms-length, or at a minimum of 20 inches away, and make sure it is just slightly below eye level.
  • Drink water! Aim to drink 1.5 litres of still, plain water daily. If you suffer from dry eyes, drinking water can help to hydrate your eyes.
  • If you have any problems with your eyes don't hesitate to speak to your optician!

4. Reduced gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) production

GABA is an amino acid that is produced in the brain. It works as a neurotransmitter to reduce the activity of neurons in brain and central nervous system which, in turn, helps to reduce stress, improve mood and boost sleep.

Low levels of GABA in the body are commonly associated with disturbed sleep and insomnia. As well as this, increased screen time has been associated with decreased GABA production. This is backed up by results from a study involving children who spent a lot of time using screen technology which found that 47.70% of the children had a severe GABA deficiency.4

So, what can you take away from this blog?

Too much screen time can negatively impact your energy levels in several ways, including by interfering with neurotransmitters and by causing eye strain. In order to avoid lack of energy, aim to reduce your screen time.

Below I have listed some handy tips on how to reduce your screen time:

  • Download screen time apps to monitor your screen time – you might be surprised by how much you use technology! Keep a note of your daily screen time and try to reduce it each day.
  • Have set times to switch off electronic devices before going to bed. Remember, the blue light from screens can have a negative impact on your melatonin levels.
  • Take a break from social media. Research has found that excessive use of social media is linked to poor sleep and feeling sluggish.5


  1. https://www.codecomputerlove.com/blog/screen-time-stats
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30311830
  3. http://isiarticles.com/bundles/Article/pre/pdf/115838.pdf
  4. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/e4fa/93eb54b62c4e52932e485bae2894d05e24dd.pdf?_ga=2.210040279.3932482.1577440730-53496155.1574082911
  5. https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/9/9/e031161

What you said

We recently ran a poll to find out when do you stop using electronic devices before going to bed. We've crunched the numbers and here are the results.

Results: When do you stop using electronic devices before going to bed?

45.6% of you said that you stop using electronic devices less than half an hour before going to bed. Remember that the blue light from electronic devices decreases melatonin production and can affect your sleep! Have a look at my blog "4 ways too much screen time can affect your energy" to find out how you can limit your screen time.

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