I spend 16 hours in front of a laptop screen on a desk, what should I do in order to take care of my body and my eyes?

  • 3
    As a one time thing, or regularly? Sitting that long is extremely unhealthy. Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 11:01
  • @Travis Check your spelling (and edit your question). spend suggest you regulary do that, spent says it was a one-time event.
    – user8036
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 11:14
  • 1
    Working 16 hours per day is bad. Also for about a third of it you are not productive. Better (at worst) work 12. 4 Hours food, relaxation etc. 8 To have some sleep and exercise
    – Ed Heal
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 21:42
  • 3
    @EdHeal Maybe he's working 8 hours and chooses to spend all his free time in front of a screen too? Or's he's unemployed but addicted to an online game?
    – Wilbert
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 12:13

8 Answers 8


At the risk of sounding flippant... stop doing that?

First and foremost, stop pulling 16-hour shifts, that's just ridiculous. If somebody's paying you to do this, they're not paying you enough to ruin your mental and physical health, so find a new job. If you're running your own business, hire help or cut back the hours, because you're burning the candle at both ends.

Second, see above.

Third, if you must and there's a good reason, make sure your ergonomics are good. Get a large external monitor and try out a standing desk. If for some reason you can't do either, at least prop up your laptop so it's closer to eye height and use a full-sized external keyboard.

  • Besides ergonomics, it would be a good idea to make sure to get up and take a break every hour, both to rest your eyes and move around a bit.
    – Andy
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 12:26
  • If you're entitled to a lunch break make sure you get out the office and use it for a walk.
    – Dustybin80
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 12:40
  • 2
    And if you are in the office for 16 hours and they deny you a lunch break... Leave immediately.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 13:22
  • 1
    The OP stated that he was a freelancer and student, not employed Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 13:42
  • 9
    @LawrenceAiello, that is irrelevant to the idea that he needs to stop pulling those shifts. It is ineeffective to work 16 hours straight. You can get mor done working 8 hours and taking breaks than working 16 hour days for more than a couple of day sin a row. Fatigue affects work drastically.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 14:58

You and me both, I feel your pain! Here’s a few of my tricks:

To relax your eyes, look out a window at the horizon for a few seconds. Focusing on a faraway object relaxes your retinas.

Slowly rotate your ankles as many times as you remember throughout the day.

Find any excuse to stand up and walk around – water fountain, bathroom, pacing while thinking about a problem, anything!

Use your lunch break to get a bit of exercise as well as just eat, especially if you can walk around a park rather than go to the gym.

Stretch your arms, rotate your shoulders and arch your back whenever you feel the first hint of stiffness, this helps keep the headaches at bay. Open your mouth wide like you’re yawning to release tension in your jaw.

Sit with your bum right into the back of the chair, don’t slouch. And adjust the height of your chair so you don’t have to either curve your back or peer up to look at your screen.

Ask your partner to rub your shoulders and back a few times a week.

  • "Ask your partner to rub your shoulders and back a few times a week." I thought for a second you were suggesting that I ask a work colleague like "hey Martha, can you rub my shoulders for a few minutes?"
    – bpromas
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 12:43

I did double full time at a super grilling and hard school that most people failed out of and would have classes from 8am-5pm a 3 hour break then classes from 8pm-5am and another 3 hours break - this is what helped me and I graduate top of my class with perfect attendance.

Sleep when you can, and sleep properly - use one of your main breaks to get sleep/shower. If you are drinking on your off time you're only causing your body more problems, wait until your schedule gets better to do things like that or for celebrations.

Eat properly - this is huge, a lot of programmers and students eat like crud, don't go to McDonalds, don't go to Burger King, and don't drink soda to get your caffeine (if you drink caffeine) do something like subway instead, drink a lot of juice, make your own sandwhiches even try eating a little once every 4 hours this will also help you take a break.

Do something physical! This is the most important thing, take an hour break twice a day and go swim, run, bike, yoga, climb, lift, whatever you find you enjoy - you are sitting in a chair stairing at a screen most of the day your body was not built to do that - your body and mind are both one single organism, take care of your body and it will take care of your mind. Don't go off and buy 'eye saving glasses (like gunnars) they are useless, don't go off and buy a keyboard or mouse that is 'suppose to help you'. I've used random keyboards and mice my whole life, these aren't what matters these all just bandages to the real problem - you're not taking care of your body. Bike to get around instead of driving, that's mainly what I did in school helped TREMENDOUSLY


Take a break every 30 minutes. Go for a walk, stretch yourself, breathe. Then come back and sit with your eyes closed for 2 minutes and get back to work.

But limit your break to 5 minutes or so.


You mentioned you have a laptop; do you also have WiFi? If so, then see if you can use it to move your "office" to different locations. Work outdoors for a bit. Get a reclining chair and work in it. Go to the library. Change is good; try changing.


You have to remember, there are a lot of things actually going on when you are at your office chair (or your bed with a laptop). Here are a few common aggrevations from office life, some I didn't even think of until they were pointed out to me.


  • List item
  • Is your keyboard a flat keyboard with no ergonomic support? Are you typing correctly?
  • Is the keyboard to small or too large for your hands to comfortably type on?
  • Is the keyboard typically at a good angle for both of your hands? (One thing I had to adjust to in the office was centering my keyboard in front of me, at my home computer it's always placed slightly to the left due to WASD in gaming)


  • Back straight?
  • Arms at your sides?
  • Are your wrists bend excessively to type on your keyboard?
  • Are your legs crossed? This can increase your blood pressure and cause stress in other areas.
  • If you have multiple monitors, is your primary monitor in front of you or to the side? Twisting your head for multiple hours is never a good idea.
  • If you're using a laptop, Do you actually have it in your lap or up on a table (having a laptop is actually pretty horrible posture, it should be on a table).


Screen brightness is a pretty rough thing in your eyes. Play with your screens, make sure that they only case as much light as they need to in order to be visible, and no more. A lot of folks prefer warmer colors as well. If your eyes are hurting, it may be worth it to consider trying some filtered glasses - The jury is still out on the long term benefits, but in the short term after eight hours in front of three monitors, my eyes don't hurt as much when wearing my pair.


Try to limit your sitting to times when you are physically typing or reading from the screen. If you need to think about the next sentence to type, get up and walk around while you think, or do some stretching exercises. If you are studying, walk around rehearsing the material in your mind, then return to the computer to check and read the next item. At first, getting up will be a distraction, but with practice it can become a habit.

Even without sitting continuously, 16 hours a day is too long for most people to work productively. You should experiment with working shorter hours to see if you get more done with more rest and relaxation.


If you are putting in that many hours, in addition to the other tips mentioned here, focus your eyes on something other than your monitor as much as possible, the 50min/10min rest rule is good for a direction.

Also, consider getting an IPS panel display with a non-flickering backlight(LED backlit is what you want) as they are much better for the eyes, and will physically fatigue you less.

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