Posted on Oct 22, 2020, 12 p.m.
With all the shutdowns the amount of screen time has drastically increased for many people as they are working and learning from home as well as binge-watching television programs. Recent research suggests that wearing blue light glasses during screen time can contribute to workday productivity and lead to a better night’s sleep.
"We found that wearing blue-light-filtering glasses is an effective intervention to improve sleep, work engagement, task performance and organizational citizenship behavior, and reduced counterproductive work behavior," said Cristiano L. Guarana, assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. "Wearing blue-light-filtering glasses creates a form of physiologic darkness, thus improving both sleep quantity and quality."
Most common technology emits blue light which past research has found can disrupt sleep. The workforce has become more reliant on these devices such as computer screens, tablets, and smart devices, especially to navigate remote work and learning due to current strict lockdown measures.
Blue light glasses are reported to have benefits for those that spend a lot of time in front of computer screens, this research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology extends the understanding of the circadian rhythm which is the internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats every 24 hours.
"In general, the effects of wearing blue-light-filtering glasses were stronger for 'night owls' than for 'morning larks,' said Guarana, who previously has studied how lack of sleep affects business decisions, relationships and other behaviours in organizations. "Owls tend to have sleep periods later in the day, whereas larks tend to have sleep periods early in the day.”
"Although most of us can benefit from reducing our exposure to blue light, owl employees seem to benefit more because they encounter greater misalignments between their internal clock and the externally controlled work time. Our model highlights how and when wearing blue-light-filtering glasses can help employees to live and work better."
Findings suggest that daily engagement and performance of tasks may be related to more underlying biological processes such as the circadian process; a good night of sleep benefits the workers and helps the employer’s bottom lines.
"Our research pushes the chronotype literature to consider the relationship between the timing of circadian processes and employees' performance," the researchers wrote.
“This study provides evidence of a very cost-effective means of improving employee sleep and work outcomes, and the implied return on investment is gigantic," said Barnes, professor of management and the Evert McCabe Endowed Fellow at the University of Washington's Foster School of Business. "I personally do not know of any other interventions that would be that powerful at that low of a cost."
Data was collected from 63 company managers and 67 call center representatives at Brazil-based offices for an American multinational financial firm to measure task performance from clients, across two studies, and participants were selected at random to test blue light filter glasses or placebo glasses.
"Employees are often required to work early mornings, which may lead to a misalignment between their internal clock and the externally controlled work time," the researchers said, adding that their analyses showed a general pattern that blue-light filtration can have a cumulative effect on key performance variables, at least in the short term.
"Blue-light exposure should also be of concern to organizations," Guarana said. "The ubiquity of the phenomenon suggests that control of blue-light exposure may be a viable first step for organizations to protect the circadian cycles of their employees from disruption."
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