Image Credit: Kasper Bertelsen
Unless you have been living under a rock, have no WiFi or don’t read anything on the internet, you will have heard the phrase:
SCREENS RUIN YOUR SLEEP PATTERNS!!!! THE WORLD IS ENDING!!!!AAAAAAAA!!!
I made that last bit up.
So, while it is not the beginning of the Apocalypse, it is true. But let’s all be calm, and take a look at the facts
The Science-y bit
So while it is true that screens do mess with your sleep a bit, the “It’ll give you insomnia” part is mainly because of a survey that most insomniacs are on social media late into the night. However, experts later admitted that it wasn’t very clear whether the participants suffered from insomnia because they spent all night looking at their phones, or whether they were suffering in the first place and browsed social media to pass the time. So while you will get a better night’s sleep, you’re not going to become an insomniac just because you had a late-night Game of Thrones marathon.
Why do screens mess with your sleep?
Most screens are powered by pixels made of many different materials, which emit light so that you can see them. Some screens (like Kindles) have screens that burn ink onto the display to mimic a piece of paper, and these don’t affect your eyes. The problem with these displays is that they don’t have a high enough refresh rate to be suitable for most devices.
A screen’s backlight has roughly the same colour temperature as daylight, which means that your eyes are not only strained to focus on a bright light while everything around it is dark but your brain thinks “This looks like we’re walking around outside. It must be daytime! Block all sleep-inducing chemicals!” And so it will be a long night.
What can I do?
I’m glad you asked!
Screen Warmers to the rescue!!!!
First, let’s get one thing out of the way: A screen warmer is not a piece of hardware. It’s a category of tech, and there are free versions of it for every major OS!
What do they do?
Screen-warmers tint your display a shade of orange. Despite what it sounds like, it’s not that bad. Seriously.
F.lux is a free screen warming app for Mac and Windows (and Android if you’re willing to root). While both these platforms have built-in screen warming tech, this app is for if you really want to get your gloves on. While simple to use, it offers many advanced tinting options and will tell you how screen time is affecting your sleep patterns at that moment, and you can even set custom tints. Download it here.
After F.lux, Apple was next to invest in display warming tech and the first to integrate natively into an OS, with Night Shift in iOS 9.3. It’s really easy to enable, so why don’t we? Note that if you have an iPad pro 9.7 or 10.9 (One of the smaller ones), you don’t need to enable Night Shift because they have True Tone displays, which automatically adjust the colour temp on the display to match the environment around it in real-time
To avoid cluttering up the article with screenshots, go to Settings, tap display and brightness, and tap Night Shift. Tap Scheduled and tap Sunset to Sunrise. Now, Night Shift will use your location (Never sent to Apple) to determine when sunset and sunrise will be in your area and will turn on and off, respectively. There’s also a toggle in Control Centre if you need to turn it on or manually.
In macOS Sierra 10.12.4, Night Shift came to the Mac, making it the second desktop OS to have native screen warming tech just five days after GNOME. It’s also called Night Shift, and it’s also super easy to enable. Go to System Preferences, and click Displays. Click Night Shift, and make sure Schedule is set from Sunrise to Sunset. Done!
To manually toggle Night Shift, open the notification centre (click the three Bars on the rightmost side of the Menu Bar or swipe left from the edge of the trackpad if you have one), scroll up to the top and KEEP SCROLLING. The toggle will magically appear, along with
If your Linux based OS is running the GNOME 3.24 desktop environment, it has Night Light and was only five days ahead of macOS for screen warming tech! To enable it, simply go to Settings, Display, NightLight, flip the toggle and make sure scheduling is from Sunset to Sunrise.
If you are not running GNOME 3.24, you can use Redshift, a free app from the Software centre. However, I’ve found it to be unreliable, and it tints the display WAY too warm. But, it’s better than nothing at all.
Windows was a little late to the party. While everyone else got the tech in March, it’s only been here since the Creators’ Update in July! To enable it, go to Settings>System>Display and then click Night Light Settings, just below the Night Light toggle. You probably know what to do here.
There’s a manual toggle in the Action Center.
Well, this is embarrassing. The only way you can get Night Mode on Android is if you run a stock version of Nougat 7.0 or later (So if you don’t a Nexus, Pixel, Motorolla or Essential Phone, you’re out of luck).
If you DO happen to have one of these devices, it’s still very hidden. Tap and hold the cog in the top-right corner of the notification centre until you reach the System UI Tuner interface. Then Enable Night Mode there.
If you don’t have one of the phones listed above, you can get The Blue Light Filter app for free. Really good reviews too.