In this post, you’ll learn about apps for shifting the color of your screen from blue to orange at night so you can balance productivity and better sleep.
Daylight is a wonderful thing, especially during these long New England winters. It makes us feel happy, awake, and productive.
But did you know the screens on your favorite devices emit blue light that simulate daylight? You can see this in action when you drive past a home at night and see the blue glow from a TV. The effects of that blue light that I discussed above – wakefulness, feeling energized – aren’t ways you want to feel at bedtime.
A variety of studies have shown that exposure to blue light at night disrupts our sleep cycles and keeps us up later than we should be. Check out this Washington Post article for a good summary of the research.
The ideal solution would be to just avoid our technology at bed time. Read a book, do some meditation, or have a bath instead. But that’s not always feasible.
Fortunately, there’s another option. Orange light that mimics the light from incandescent light bulbs or candles doesn’t have the same disruptive effect as blue light. Below are some great tools and apps for automatically shifting the color temperature of your screen from blue to orange at night so you can balance productivity and sleep more easily.
Bonus: Using these apps during the daytime helps some chronic headache sufferers manage the eyestrain that comes with working on a screen.
Windows and Mac: Install F.lux
F.lux is a free app you can use on any Windows or Mac computer. Head here to get f.lux for free. After installing, you’ll tell f.lux where you are so it can automatically adjust your screen’s color temperature based on sunrise and sunset in your location. Then, it’ll do all the work automatically.
The shift in color and brightness is pretty dramatic with f.lux, but I find that I don’t notice it at all unless I turn it off. I’ve had others look over my shoulder and ask why my screen is so orange, then demand that I show them where to get f.lux once I tell them about it.
However, if you’re doing color sensitive work at night (like image editing), you’ll want to turn it off. You can easily switch f.lux off for an hour or longer, and it’ll resume automatically when you’re done. You can also set the degree to which f.lux changes your screen temperature, set f.lux to help you sleep in on weekends, or even get an extra hour of sleep (great for kids and teens).
Whenever I get a new computer, f.lux is one of the first things I install.
iPhone and iPad: Turn on Night Shift
Have you ever blinded yourself with your phone screen in the middle of the night? This tool and the Android app that follows help prevent that from happening ever again, as well as helping you sleep better.
Apple has built a f.lux-like tool right into the newest versions of iOS. As of iOS 9.3, you can turn on a setting called Night Shift to change your screen’s color temperature to the orange range at night.
Unsure what version of iOS you’re on? Learn how to check your iOS version here.
To turn on Night Shift:
- On your device, open the Settings app .
- In the column to the left, tap Display & Brightness. The display settings will open.
- Tap Night Shift. Here you’ll be able to set a time for Night Shift to begin and end.
You can also edit Night Shift’s color temperature to your liking. The Manually Enable Until Tomorrow switch will turn Night Shift on immediately so you can get idea of how dramatic the color shift will be.
Android: Use the Twilight App
Twilight is a free Android App that dims and shifts the color temperature of your screen automatically at night. You can get the Twilight app here.
Once you install the app, it will handle everything automatically. For a bit more control, you can adjust color temperature on a orange-red scale, the intensity of the color change, and the screen dim percentage manually, but I find the default settings just fine.
Twilight will run in the background of your phone, but you can always drag down from the top of the screen to open the notification bar and turn Twilight on or off. I sometime pop it open to dim the screen even more if I’m using my phone in bed right before I go to sleep.
The Twilight developers are always coming up with new tools for this app. I’ve used it for three years, and it seems like there’s a new feature every six months or so, if not more. So if you’re looking for something you can really tweak, you’ll love this app. Conversely, you can completely ignore the fancy features and Twilight will still work great for you.
Do you use any other apps to help balance technology and rest? Let me know in the comments!