In the modern era driven by caffeine, electronics, and long work schedules, it’s very difficult to promote good sleep hygiene. I’ll admit using a combination of my laptop, smartphone, tablet, and desktop computer before sleeping, and notice that mentally, I’m unable to wind down in preparation for bedtime. In fact, studies show the normal light-driven signals to initiate the early phases of sleep are affected by conventional display technologies.
Specifically, the photopigment melanopsin’s sensitivity to visible light in the ~500 nanometer wavelength range (corresponding to blue light) suppresses the release of melatonin, an important hormone in sleep cycle regulation. By applying a blue light filter, perhaps we can mitigate the harm we place on our sleep cycles by shifting display colors towards a “warmer” hue devoid of higher frequency tones.
The latest Google Pixel phone users can enjoy using “Night Light” built directly into the Android operating system and iOS 9.3+ users (running 64-bit chipsets after 2013) can similarly utilize “Night Shift.” Apple’s iPad Pro even uses hardware sensors (TrueTone display) to dynamically adjust the intensity of white light to match the environment. Pretty awesome!
For people who don’t own the aforementioned devices, I strongly recommend f.lux for Mac and Windows users. It’s a free piece of software which, per the website, “makes your computer screen look like the room you’re in, all the time.” The adjustments are all automatic based on your location and sunrise/sunset schedules, but there are many options to tweak the exact timing/color scheme you’d like. 🙂
For non-Pixel Android smartphone and tablet users, I recommend the free app Twilight. Straight from their website: “It filters the flux of blue light emitted by your phone or tablet after sunset and protects your eyes with a soft and pleasant red filter. The filter intensity is smoothly adjusted to the sun cycle based on your local sunset and sunrise times.”
Hopefully these applications will help improve your sleep hygiene related to gadget use! They’re both free, so there’s no harm in trying. 🙂