With a long list of potential triggers for migraines, including certain foods, anxiety, and/or loud noises, technology has now made the cut. In an article on the Mashable website, Dr. Audrey Halpern, a neurologist and clinical assistant professor at New York University provides reasons why addictions to our laptops, phones and tablets can lead to the throbbing pains of a headache, or worse, migraine.

Eye Straining

Dr. Halpern explains that staring at tech-savvy screens leads to digital eyestrain, or computer vision syndrome, which can create irritated eyes, tiredness and headaches. Although comfort level and vulnerability towards digital eyestrain differs from person to person, according to Vision Council (2015 Digital Eyestrain Report), almost 70% of Millennials have at one point felt the symptoms of eyestrain. This high majority makes sense since the report shows that 60% of the adults use digital screens for at least 5 hours a day!

Stress

As referenced earlier, stress/anxiety is a major trigger in migraines. (I experience this myself.) This is exacerbated by always being connected to our e-mails and phones since we are still at work even when we are not physically at work. Although it may be hard to cut down on the constant use of mobile devices, and communications for work, it is important to be aware of this muscle tension that can trigger a headache. Additionally, the lighting on screens also impairs our ability to sleep since it is a stimulating light. The lack of sleep creates added stress and potential causes of headaches.

Prevention

Doctors suggest preventing digital eyestrain, and therefore headaches, by taking frequent breaks away from the screen (maybe after reading this), or by using artificial teardrops to help with the dryness in the eye. Additionally, yoga, meditation, and other stress relieving activities can help to counter-act the incessant connection between work and stress. Lastly, turning off all electronic screens before bed helps your body achieve a more successful night’s rest with uninterrupted sleep cycles.

It may be unrealistic to change some of the factors that contribute to headaches, but maybe taking a break away from your computer for 20 minutes is more efficient than a 72-hour migraine in the long run.

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About Ryann Shaffer

Ryann is an upcoming junior at the University of Pennsylvania. She majors in Health and Societies, concentrating in Public Health Policy and Law, and minors in Psychology.

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