Block Blue Light And Sleep Better Tonight
Is the blue light emanating from your tablet and cell phone wrecking your sleep? Here are three smart ways to limit its effects
One of the best parts of having super-thin, light tablets and smartphones in our lives is that we can lie in bed and stream a TV show or movie, read a book or magazine, play a game or look up pretty much anything to tickle our minds until we doze off. However, research has shown that our devices could be keeping us up thanks to the blue light they emit. Blue light can suppress the brain's release of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate our sleep and wake cycles.
If you're addicted to a little late-night surfing, all is not lost. There are a few ways to mitigate blue light's effect that let you have your tablet and a good night's rest as well. Here are three options.
There's an app for that
Twilight is an app for Android that turns the screen on your tablet or smartphone from blue to red, a color that doesn't mess with your production of melatonin. You can turn it on or off at will, or you can let it run in the background and it will automatically start to dim your screen and fill it with a soothing reddish hue around the time the sun sets in your area.
Another option for Android users is the Blue Light Filter for Eyecare app. It can't automatically dim your screen, but it does let you control the blue light output of your device with a simple slider. It also allows you to choose the kind of filter you want. While natural or black tend to look the best (and better than the red fuzzy look you get from Twilight), you can also choose yellow, brown or red.
The only similar app for iOS computers and tablets is F.lux. It too turns down the amount of blue light hitting your eyeballs as it gets darker outside. One benefit to F.lux is that it can also be installed on your computer, so that if you do any late-night work, you'll be spared the bright, energizing light of your monitor for a warmer, reddish/yellow glow. You can't put it on your iPhone unless you jailbreak the phone.
Even though it was pre-smartphones when musician Corey Hart sang about that fact that he wore his sunglasses at night, he just might have been on to something.
Wearing a pair of blue-light-blocking sunglasses while looking at your devices at night is a simple way to shield your eyes from those sleep-disrupting wavelengths. In one three-week study of 20 people, wearing blue-blocking lenses before bed each night led to increased quality of sleep and improved mood.
If you find it too uncomfortable (or just plain strange) to wear sunglasses while you're relaxing at night, you might want to consider putting a blue-light screen protector on your devices. A company called SleepShield makes a wide variety of different-sized films to cover a range of Apple devices. The screens are removable and reusable in case you don't want to look through them all day.
While there are no vendors out there making screen protectors specifically for Android devices, Illumishield does offer up blue-blocking film for a range of devices including both Apple and other brands.
Of course, the best way to protect yourself from blue light it to just not use your devices before bedtime, or to limit your exposure to less than one hour. One experiment showed that using an iPad for just one hour didn't alter melatonin production dramatically, while two hours did. Sweet dreams!