It’s this simple: If you spend your evening hours looking at that beautiful bright screen on your tablet or smart phone, you’re probably not getting the sleep you need. This summary from the Wikipedia article Effects of Blue Lights Technology explains:
“Natural exposure to blue light during the daylight hours boosts people’s energy, alertness and mood, and elongated exposure to the waves transmitted through screen devices during the evening disrupts our circadian rhythms and sleep patterns and increases our risk for cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Scientists believe that the underlying cause may be linked to a decrease in the bodies’ production of melatonin.”
So does this mean we have to stop using our devices after dark or risk serious health consequences? Not necessarily. We simply need to dim the screen and shift the light emitted to warmer, redder tones. I like to think of it as moving close to a cozy campfire after the sun goes down.
There Are Apps for That!
The good news is that there are apps to achieve this “screen warming” for you! As an Android user, I highly recommend Twilight. I use it on both my tablet and my smartphone. The image above compares two screenshots from my phone. The shot on the right was captured after Twilight automatically activated at sunset. And while it may look overly red in comparison to the daytime shot on the left, the night mode screen remains crisp and easy to read.
What’s so great about Twilight?
I set it up and forget about it! I installed it on each device and went with the default settings. It simply activates at sunset and shuts off at dawn. Meanwhile, I just use my tablet and phone without thinking about the “blue light” issue. Twilight’s got my back!
It’s controllable. When Twilight is running, you can easily click its “pause” button from your notification panel to switch your screen back on full brightness if you need it (i.e., you can temporarily drop the reddish tinge). For example, I used this the other night to pause Twilight and capture a normal, bright screen shot for sharing on Facebook. Then I simply pressed Twilight’s “play” button to resume the darker Twilight night viewing screen and continued using Facebook in night mode. Or if a webpage or e-book appears a bit too dark or too bright, I can make adjustments with a couple of clicks from my notification bar. And if I really want to get serious about it, I can fine tune Twilight’s settings by using sliders to adjust the screen’s temperature, intensity and dimness.
It seems to be working! Since I’ve been using Twilight it seems to me I fall asleep easier at bedtime — especially if I’m reading an eBook on my tablet! And according to my Up Move activity and sleep tracker, I’m getting a better night’s sleep. (i.e., I sleep a little longer overall, with more time spent in “sound” sleep.)
(Check out the links at the end of this article for videos & more about Twilight.)
Apple Users, Check Out Your “Night Shift”
Until recently, iPhone users have not been able to make nighttime screen adjustments. But good news! According to Tech Insider, it’s now a built-in feature in your Apple device:
“If you are an iPhone user … you haven’t been able to tone down the levels of blue light coming out of your phone. Now, the recent iOS 9.3 update changes that. It enables a new mode called Night Shift that you can set starting at whatever you choose time in the evening.” — [read more here: Here’s why the iPhone’s Night Shift mode is such a big deal (Tech Insider)]
(Check out the links at the end of this article for more about Night Shift.)
If you use your tablet or smartphone at night, take a few minutes to install Twilight (Android) or set up Night Shift (Apple iOS 9.3). If you’re like like me, you will soon be falling asleep faster and easier and getting a better night’s sleep!
===== References =====
- A Good Night’s Sleep? There Are Apps for That!
- Wikipedia article Effects of Blue Lights Technology
- 3 Serious Reasons Why You Need To Stop Using Your Smartphone At Night!
- Twilight app at the Google Play Store (NOTE: Check out the app’s full “description” for extensive background info & lots of links to research re: blue light & sleep.)
- Android App Arena 89: Display Color Adaptation (12 minute video podcast — Apps reviewed: Twilight, Lux Auto Brightness, CF.lumen, f.lux.)
- Why I Use Twilight (4 minute YouTube video) (YouTube video)
- Twilight (Android) App of the Week (Ting YouTube Video)
- Twilight Presentation (YouTube video from the app publishers)
- How to use Apple’s new Night Shift mode in iOS 9.3 (YouTube video)
- Why Apple’s Night Shift in iOS 9.3 will help you get a better night’s sleep