You all probably know by now that I put a high priority on sleep, even as an engineering student. I could go on my own little soapbox regarding the importance of enough quality sleep, but you can just read the majority of it in my post here.
I’m sure you’ve heard time and time again how you need to turn off the electronics a few hours before bed since the blue light they emit is harmful to your sleep. It’s like that green light in The Great Gatsby, except instead of calling you to your “American dream” or your “true love,” it’s calling your brain to activity. It’s calling you to action.
Okay, so maybe that’s not the best analogy ( I tried, they’re both colored lights okay), but you get the idea- blue light at night is not right!
So why is this such a big deal? Here’s what Harvard has to say:
“[N]ot all colors of light have the same effect. Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night. And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.” –source
Blue wavelengths more or less confuse your body’s biological clock (aka circadian rhythm) and therefore impact your sleep cycles. There are also some theories and studies connecting this effect to various cancers, but nothing significant has been officially declared or proven yet.
What happened when I spent the past two weeks monitoring how much blue light I was experiencing at night?
I now fall asleep a lot faster.
Of course there are nights where someone’s talking in the suite way too late, kids outside are screaming, or I have a lot on my mind that leaves me awake an hour or two after I go to bed, but those nights are a lot less frequent.
I stay asleep through the night.
I used to wake up every morning between 3 and 4am, which was super annoying. I was always able to go back to sleep pretty quickly, but that’s besides the point. After I started cutting out blue light before bed, I stopped randomly waking up in the middle of the night. You guys, this makes such a difference!
I now feel prepared for bed.
I don’t get screen headaches before bed or reach that weird in-between state where you’re tired but not really. When 10pm starts creeping up (yep, I’m the loser that goes to bed around 10), I already feel like I’ve been winding down and that I’m physically ready to go to sleep. Before, it was always a mental thing. I would tell myself “it’s time to go to sleep now” and wait for my body to get the message. Now, it’s not a problem. That all sounds kind of weird now that I reread it, but I’m sure you get what I’m saying 😉 .
I’m more awake in the morning.
I’m more willing to actually get out of bed as opposed to prior semesters even though I have an 8:30 class every morning. A lot of factors probably play into this, but avoiding blue light before bed definitely helps!
Overall, this little experiment has been such a benefit! Granted, the whole warm screen thing (as you’ll see further down in the post) has taken some time to get used to and definitely catches people off-guard if they happen to catch a glimpse, but I think it’s so great. Keep reading for some ways to start removing blue light from your own night life!
Take advantage of the ‘night shift’ feature on your phone.
I know most of you check your phone right before bed (and when I say “check,” I definitely mean “scroll endlessly for an hour”). This is probably the biggest culprit if you find yourself unable to fall asleep! You know how people have that blue glow highlighting their face when using their phone at night? Yep. Literally blue light.
Most recommendations out there say to cut out technology before bed completely, but if you just can’t stand to be off your phone that long, you can help your brain by turning on the “night shift” option! See below for how to do so on the iPhone.
This feature is definitely available on the iPhone, but I believe is only on newer Samsung models. #TeamiPhone ftw once again 😉
1. Go to your settings and click on “Display & Brightness.”
2. Click on “Night Shift.”
The first thing you should do is schedule it to turn on automatically, which is that first box. There’s an option to have it switch to night mode from sunset to sunrise, but adjust according to your schedule! I found that sunset is a little too early for my liking, so mine is set to turn on at 8 pm, as you can see.
After you’ve got your times set, figure out what temperature your eyes like best. Be sure to keep it on the right side of the slider- otherwise, there’s still quite a bit of blue light going on.
After that quick and easy process, your phone is all taken care of!
What about those other devices? After all, I couldn’t possibly expect you to give up your phone, kindle, iPad, and laptop right? What monster would do that?
Now that your phone is on a blue light schedule…
Install f.lux on your computer.
With f.lux, your computer automatically changes the display color based on the time of day at your current location. It imitates sunlight during the day and warmer, indoor lights at night. This program is awesome; once installed, you won’t have to worry about your screens again!
Without f.lux, here’s what your display looks like:
Once it turns on, your display slowly transitions to this:
Just look at the change!
This reflects a similar laptop to my own, but you can play around with the different graphs for your own device here. It’s compatible with phones and tablets too!
Your screen won’t be as yellow as the image above if you don’t want it to be, don’t worry. You can adjust your settings to make the display warmer or cooler to your liking. There are all kinds of modes and night settings to try!
Here is a screenshot of what some of your options are:
I highly encourage you to install f.lux and spend a few days with it to see how it works for you.
I am not an affiliate or partner with f.lux and therefore am not getting paid for any downloads or reviews, I just really love this program!
Get more light during the day, preferably true sunlight.
F.lux will imitate sunlight on your devices, but make sure you’re outside when weather permits and/or in brighter indoor lights during the day. This helps your body really get that it’s day time, improve your mood, and give you a little more energy to get through the day overall!
But remember to down the lights after sunset.
If you can, turn off harsh overhead lights, opting instead for warmer lamps in the evening. I’m currently loving this Himalayan salt lamp (affiliate link). Yes, fluorescent and LED lightbulbs are more environmentally friendly, but they also emit more blue light than incandescent bulbs. For now, look for these efficient bulbs with a different coating to cut down on the blue wavelengths you’re exposed to.
Well, there you have it! Cutting down on my intake of blue wavelengths a few hours before bed has definitely made a difference for me. It takes only a few minutes to get started, but your well-being will thank you. Let me know what you try and how it works for you!
~ How do you avoid blue light at night?