Tens of millions of Americans suffer from migraine headaches and many of them find that they seem to get headaches when watching TV or using the computer for extended period of time.
As a society, we are pretty glued to screens for both work and leisure, so while giving up or cutting back screen time may be an option for some, it isn’t for a large percentage of the population. The good news is, that isn’t your only option. Here are some things you can do to prevent your screen time from triggering a headache or migraine.
Have your eyes checked
If you haven’t recently, get your eyes checked and make sure that if you wear glasses, that your prescription is current. I also recommend getting evaluated for Irlen Syndrome by an Irlen Specialist.
Irlen Syndrome (also known as Meares-Irlen Syndrome, Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome, and Visual Stress) is a perceptual processing disorder. It is not an optical problem. Instead, it is a problem with the brain’s ability to process visual information.
People with Irlen Syndrome are often misdiagnosed because the symptoms are fairly ambiguous and include headaches, light sensitivity, reading problems, and strain & fatigue. It is often confused with other syndromes and in young people, is often misdiagnosed as ADHD or dyslexia.
Adjust your screen
Computer and device screens emit an unnatural balance of light that can stress the body. This blue light is why so many doctors encourage people to refrain from screen time before bed. You can use blue blocker glasses that will block out this blue light and the best ones I know of called TrueDark can be found here. You can also use an app called f.lux or iris that will adjust the brightness and color of your screen based on the time of day.
There are also changes you can make to a computer screen itself. For instance, you can change the screen’s refresh rate. The refresh rate indicates how many times per second your computer screen renews its image. When rates are set too low, monitors can imperceptibly flicker, causing your eyes to strain more than necessary. You can usually change your refresh rate in the preferences of your device so you’ll want to Google “change refresh rate” and the name of your device to find specific instructions. The refresh rate frequency is measured in hertz. You’ll want to set this rate as high as it will go to reduce eye strain. If you find yourself squinting or struggling to read your screen clearly, you can always increase the font size displayed in your settings.
Check your TV
Have you noticed that a particular TV in your house triggers your headaches? Not all TVs are the same and there may be a different refresh rate on your various TVs causing imperceptible flickering which can trigger headaches.
Is there a pattern with what you are watching?
You should also pay attention to whether this tends to happen when you’re watching a specific kind of show. Do you find that these headaches come on during the local news or tense thrillers whereas when you’re watching comedy, it doesn’t seem to happen?
Check your posture
Your posture when you’re watching TV can contribute to headaches. Do you find that you get a crick in the neck or tend to lean forward? When you’re watching TV you’re probably not paying attention to your posture, but by being aware of it you may find your trigger.
Check your environment
Investigate your surroundings for other potential triggers. For instance, do you have air fresheners or scented candles in the room when you’re using your screen? Those are known to contribute to migraine headaches and eliminating them can really help.
If all else fails…
If these don’t provide any clues, perhaps try a week where you make a real effort to cut back on screen time and spend some time listening to music, audiobooks, or podcasts to unwind after your one favorite show in the evenings and see how that goes. You may find a new routine that you enjoy anyway.
Don’t go at it alone
If you wonder why you are overly sensitive to lights and smells and are frustrated that you constantly have to adjust your life and schedule around migraine headaches – let us help you uncover the biochemical imbalances that are causing this. The best way to start is with an in-depth Case Review – Learn More about our team.
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