In general, looking at your phone at night is a terrible idea.
Smartphone screens emit bright blue light so you can see them even at the sunniest times of day.
But at night, your brain gets confused by that light, as it mimics the brightness of the sun. This causes the brain to stop producing melatonin, a hormone that gives your body the “time to sleep” cues. Because of this, smartphone light can disrupt your sleep cycle, making it harder to fall and stay asleep – and potentially causing serious health problems along the way.
If you are an iPhone user who can’t use f.lux, you haven’t been able to tone down the levels of blue light coming out of your phone. Now, the recent iOS 9.3 update changes that. It enables a new mode called Night Shift that you can set starting at whatever you choose time in the evening. When Night Shift kicks in, your phone automatically adjusts the display so that it gives off warmer, less blue light.
Here’s how blue light at night affects your brain:
But while the reasons to avoid blue light at night seem clear, do we know that shifting the color tone from your phone helps?
There’s a little research on how changing the tone of your screen may help sleep, though more is still needed. But anecdotally, I can say that it’s a pleasant change and makes my eyes feel a little less stressed. Tech Insider’s Dave Smith wrote that “Night Shift is one of my favorite recent additions to the iPhone.”
Still, don’t consider this the solution to all phone-related sleep issues.
Business Insider’s Erin Brodwin spoke to a sleep scientist who pointed out that light is just one of the things that affect our sleep. What we do with our phones can also stimulate our minds and keep us awake, especially if we are scrolling through social media, reading news, or browsing the web.
You know that anxiety you feel when a new email pops up right when you are trying to quiet your mind? Changing the color of the light won’t help with that.
Night Shift is a nice update and a pleasant change. But keeping your phone away from your bed – or at least enabling “Airplane mode” along with Night Shift – might still be a good plan.