It’s become common practice for people to be on their smartphones or work from their laptops late into the night. Brightly-lit screens have become so much a part of our daily life that it’s hard to get away from them. Brightly-lit screens and good sleep, however, are not compatible.
Bright Screens Disrupt Sleeping Patterns
Light from the screen, specifically blue light, suppresses melatonin secretion in the brain. Secretion of melatonin is a necessary biological process for initiating sleep.
Sleep is very dependent on darkness. When the sun goes down and the lights go out, the brain starts secreting melatonin. If your brain is flooded with light stimulation up until the moment that you climb under the sheets, the brain gets flustered and normal sleep may not be properly initiated. This typically results in a night of disrupted sleep and odd dreams.
Fortunately, technology has come to the rescue. There are several companies that have created apps in recent years to remove the blue light from your computer, tablet, and phone screens.
A blue-light-free screen is perfectly readable. In fact, it’s even pleasant. It’s not harsh on your eyes and will not leave you with a headache. Of course, it will also help if you reduce any other artificial lighting as bedtime draws near.
Recommended Apps for Improving Sleep
A company called f.lux has created a computer app that removes blue light from the computer screen. The app allows a normally-lit screen during the day, and then gradually removes blue light from the screen as the sun goes down. After you enter your zip code, it synchronizes a circadian rhythm of light and dark specific to your time zone. The app can be downloaded for free at justgetflux.com, and is currently available for Mac, iPad, and Windows.
Another app called Twilight offers a similar experience for Android smartphone users. Twilight has additional settings and features that lets you adjust the color temperature and intensity. You can download the free version from the Google Play app store.
For iPhone users, Apple recently released a new update (iOS 9.3.1) that includes a “Night Shift” option. You can access it from the bottom pull-up menu on your phone (the button looks like a sun and moon combined). Unlike f.lux and Twilight, you will need to manually turn it on every night. Once turned on, it will remove blue light from the screen until the next morning (7:00am).