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Ditch Computer Eye Strain With These 8 Free Apps

Ditch Computer Eye Strain With These 8 Free Apps

Computer eye strain is an unfortunately common part of 21st-century life that can do long-term damage to your vision, not to mention causing sore eyes and headaches in the short term. Recent studies have shown the bluish glow of our screens also reduces the body’s melatonin levels that we need to naturally sleep, causing people to stay up later and have more difficulty falling asleep when they do go to bed.

Doctors often recommend taking breaks from looking at your screen to prevent eye strain, but not everyone is so good at sticking to schedules on their own. Here are eight free web or mobile apps to help keep your eyes healthy and pain-free!

1. Awareness (Mac, Windows)

awareness
    image source: Cult of Mac

    Awareness is a free app for Mac and Windows that gets you to take regular breaks without getting in the way. It’s super inconspicuous as far as these apps go; it sits on your menu bar while you go about your business, quietly counting the minutes until your next small break. You set the time limit for chunks of uninterrupted work yourself, as well as how long your breaks are. Once you’ve been at the computer for your set amount of minutes, Awareness plays the steady tone of a Tibetan singing bowl to let you know it’s time for a break. And it actually makes sure you take that break by monitoring your app/browser usage for those minutes, but doesn’t lock you out. This is probably the simplest, easiest app to use if you’re looking for break reminders that get you to actually do them without being intrusive.

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    2. F.lux (Mac, Windows, Linux, and iPhone)

    flux2
      image source: AddictiveTips

      I installed this app a couple years ago on my laptop and have used it ever since. F.lux adjusts the glow of your monitor based on the time of day; not just brightness, but tint as well. Without that glaring blue glow, I actually have to go to sleep at a reasonable hour because I get sleepy. Which, ya know, is supposed to happen! F.lux has an incredibly detailed list of research on this issue here. It’s an easy install and it runs on a bunch of operating systems. This is probably my #1 recommendation from this list.

      3. ProtectYourVision (Chrome, Firefox, Safari app)

        One of the most popular apps out there is ProtectYourVision. You can customize its break plan, though the default “20-20-20” plan is a commonly used technique with many supporters. ProtectYourVision beeps when it’s time for your break, and temporarily blacks out your screen for those few minutes. So, it’s a little disruptive in that way, but you can choose not to take a break when prompted, meaning the screen won’t black out until you say you’re on your break. If you really need to, you can override the break-time blackout as well. Plus, the app gives you suggestions for eye exercises to do during your break, and it has an adorable robot mascot.

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        4. Twilight (Android)

        twilight

          Since F.lux has a version for iOS but not Android, I found this app that has largely positive reviews from its users. Twilight also operates based on research done on the effects of blue-tinted light on the circadian rhythm and overall quality of sleep. The developers also cited special interest in research showing people who used a tablet or smartphone for a couple hours before bed fell asleep about an hour later than those who did not. So if you have a mobile device that runs on Android and want to employ this technology to protect your eyes and stop having trouble getting properly sleepy, get Twilight.

          5. Time Out (Mac)

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          timeout

            Time Out is exclusive to Mac and is a good app for those who aren’t sure how to space out their breaks. It gives you a set break plan that involves 50 minute chunks of working with 10 minute breaks, as well as “micro” breaks throughout your work time, 10 seconds every 10 minutes. (They can still be customized, however.) The micro breaks are helpful for those who find themselves unintentionally tensing up as they work, giving you a brief but consistent reminder to relax your muscles and adjust your posture. If you only want one kind of break, you can disable either of them. The breaks will fade your screen to let you know it’s time, and then fade back in when the break is over.

            6. eyeCare (Chrome app)

            eyes

              If you like your apps connected to your browser for a little extra convenience, eyeCare is a Chrome extension to help remind you to take those eye-resting breaks. Like ProtectYourVision, this app recommends the 20-20-20 plan, but you can of course customize your schedule. Regularly schedule breaks for your eyes is the most frequently recommended method for preventing eye strain. The extension also gives you instructions for eye exercises. It’s a one-click install, and it has a 4.5/5 star review by users.

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              7. Nocturne (Mac)

              nocturne

                This is another Mac-only app with a unique approach. Nocturne is an older display-altering app to reduce eye strain, but it does so by giving you options to change your display via using a monochrome scheme as pictured above, inverting colors, disabling shadow effects, and adjusting tints. You can adjust screen brightness as well. Again, it’s a somewhat dated app, but it is free and offers a unique approach to reducing eye strain at night.

                8. Eye Pro (Windows)

                  Eye Pro is a Windows app that seeks to reduce eye strain but also focuses on keeping your eyes properly moisturized. Not satisfied with only preventing eye strain, the developers designed the app to get you to blink more while at the computer. Research shows that our blink rate tends to decrease significantly when we use a computer. Eye Pro displays occasional notices encouraging you to rest your eyes and blink to restore natural moisture. There are short and long breaks, which you can skip if you need to, and plenty of tips for eye exercises and overall protection.

                  Featured photo credit: working in the dark/George Whitaker via flic.kr

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                  Last Updated on October 14, 2019

                  10 Simple Ways To Increase Metabolism Without Working Out

                  10 Simple Ways To Increase Metabolism Without Working Out

                  When it comes to increasing your metabolism, getting a good workout a couple of times a week is only one of many players. If you’re not a fan of lifting heavy stuff, then you’re only expending extra energy for that, say, one hour of that specific day. But what about the remaining 23 hours? How can you make sure you’re burning blubber all throughout the day? Here are 10 simple ways to increase your metabolism without working out.

                  1. Stand More

                  Many health practitioners claim that sitting is the new smoking. We sit in the office, we sit in the car, we sit when we get home. It’s not only terrible for your health and posture, but you require a lot less energy when seated. So, a good way to ignite the furnace a bit is to stand as much as possible through out the day. You work in an office? Put two boxes under your keyboard or laptop. There are many free solutions to making a standing desk—so you have no excuses. When you’ve gotten used to standing while working you will quickly find that it’s easier to stay engaged as well—you’re less inclined to drift away mentally. In fact, this post was written standing.

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                  2. Gamify Your Life

                  Toys such as the Fitbit or Nike Fuelband, or apps like Argus, can help you increase your metabolism by giving you an incentive to walk more. Argus, and other apps like it, use the accelerometer in your smartphone to measure your steps and let you know when you’ve hit your daily goal. Fitbit and the Nike Fuelband do the same, but have a host of other functions to make being healthy a tad more fun.

                  3. Eat Your Veggies

                  Fibrous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli increase your metabolism by putting your digestive system on overdrive. It just simply requires more energy to break down the tough fiber of these nutritional powerhouses. You’ll also start feeling like a rock star from the overload of vitamins and minerals from eating more vegetables.

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                  4. Eat Protein

                  This is one of those rules that’s not to be misunderstood. While it does boost your metabolism to eat more protein, it should be instead of other foods, not on top of other foods. If you’re stuffing your face with a chicken breast when you’re not hungry just to boost your metabolism, you’re doing it wrong. Of the three macro-nutrients—fats, carbs and protein—protein is the one that requires the most energy to break down. So, if you switch out some of those cheese sandwiches with a few hardboiled eggs you’re on the right path.

                  5. Drink Loads Of Cold Water

                  Drinking a few glasses of ice-cold water in the morning can boost your metabolism quite effectively. Your body expends energy on constantly staying in homeostasis when it comes to temperature, so if you chug a bunch of icy water you’re making your body expend more energy on keeping itself at the same temperature. Using temperature to expend more energy is called thermogenesis and it’s one of the most efficient ways of cranking up your calorie burning—more on this further down.

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                  6. Spice Up Your Meals

                  Spices like cayenne, chilli, ginger and turmeric ignite your metabolism and make your meals a bit more exciting. If you make it a habit to add a little bit of spice to each of your meals it can be a habit that turns you into a fat-burning furnace.

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                    7. Drink Caffeine

                    No, drinking loads of coffee is not bad for you. The sugar and heavy cream you could be inclined to chase it down with might be though. Caffeine helps mobilize—that is, get rid of—adipose tissue, or fat. It also helps athletic performance, and some individuals report it to have appetite-curbing effects. If you’re very sensitive to stimulants, try not to have caffeine too close to bedtime though, as it can mess with your sleep.

                    8. Plan Your Meals Around Exercise

                    I know the title of this post says “…Without Working Out” but this trick technically is more a nutritional trick than an exercise-related one. When you’ve exerted yourself and, hopefully, broken down some muscle fibers, your protein synthesis, or the rate at which you build muscle, increases. So, having heavy meals after a workout will make sure those calories get stored in the right places. This is one of the reasons it’s a good idea to get a heavy session in before the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

                    9. Do Intermittent Fasting

                    It’s long been said you should always eat a heavy breakfast as it kick starts your metabolic rate. There hasn’t been any study proving this though. There have only been behavioral studies correlating obesity with breakfast skippers, but it’s always been a case of confusing correlation with causation. It’s not the fact that you skip breakfast that makes you fat; it’s the poor food choices you make throughout the rest of your day. Studies have shown that fat burning increases the longer you get into a fast, obviously depending on the body fat level of the individual. In fact, in one study lowered metabolic rate did not occur until 60 hours into a fast. Intermittent fasting is very much one of the bigger wins when it comes to increasing your metabolism.

                    10. Use Cold Exposure

                    For some reason it’s been common knowledge for a while that sweating increases metabolic rate. Scientist have known for a while though that the opposite is actually true; exposing yourself to cold temperatures increase your calorie burn significantly. Just slight shifts in your home temperature can mean pounds lost or gained when you gather the numbers yearly. How else do you think swimmer Michael Phelps is able to eat 12,000 calories a day? Obviously, he swims hours each day, but it’s not just the exercise he gets from swimming that allows him to consume such quantities of food, it’s also the amount of energy the body has to expend to keep itself at its baseline temperature in the cold water. So, taking ice-cold showers, decreasing the temperature of your home, or swimming in cool pools will help you burn a lot more calories.

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