With the recent release of iOS 9.3 on 21st March came Apple’s solution to a good night’s sleep, Night Shift. When activated on an Apple device, Night Shift changes the colours on the screen towards the warmer end of the spectrum to reduce blue light and eye strain for the user. I’ve been using this feature for about a week and here are my thoughts…
Studies in recent years have shown that blue light emitted from electronic devices can hamper sleep, especially the act of falling asleep. It was only in the last six months that I’d heard of the problems that blue light caused. Like many others, I noticed that my sleep pattern had gotten progressively worse since the introduction of smartphones and tablets, devices that rarely sit unused for more than a few hours. I used to get eight hours sleep a night and nod off as soon as my head hit the pillow. These days I get about seven hours broken sleep and sometimes it can take me a while to drift off. One thing I do every night is use my iPad/iPhone, sometimes to read articles and often to watch Netflix. Whether the two are connected or not is debatable but compared to the days when I would just read a book for half an hour before sleeping, my experience has definitely changed and it’s something I really should address.
Glasses have been produced that cut out blue light and are meant to be worn up to three hours before turning in. I heard about these some time ago and actually considered getting a pair. The more I thought about it though, the less ideal it seemed. I already wear glasses and to have to switch pairs as the evening wears on and to remember to don them before getting into bed would be a pain. I suspect these are more effective than anything an app can do but it’s still an extra step to have to remember.
When Apple announced Night Shift I was a bit sceptical but as it wasn’t something extra that I would need to fork out for I thought I would give it a try. Night Shift is activated by opening the Settings app on your device and navigating to the Display & Brightness tab (it can also be accessed via the sun/moon icon when swiping up from the bottom of the screen). From here you can enable the mode manually and select the colour temperature that the display will shift to. The real standout feature for me is the scheduling function. You can set Night Shift to switch on at a set time every evening and then turn off again in the morning. I have mine set from 10pm to 7am. It is also possible to set it from sunset to sunrise automatically, useful if you are travelling. Once Night Shift is activated, the screen turns very orange and the reduction in the glow and brightness from the screen is apparent straight away. Reading and web browsing is relatively similar but watching video content takes some getting used to.
So, how has it affected my sleep so far? I really think there has been a positive change. Over the last week or so I’ve found that I’ve been falling asleep far quicker than usual, often nodding off several times whilst trying to watch Netflix (and dropping the iPad on the floor!). Before Night Shift I was generally wide awake up until the point I forced myself to go to sleep and often didn’t feel tired at all. When viewing the screen in low light, the orange hue is much easier on the eyes and I feel myself relaxing and being less alert than with the blue light. Previously, I would never have attributed waking up during the night to electrical devices, but I’ve also found this is occurring less now. I can only imagine that this disturbance was due to the glow in the dark when an email or text was received, with Night Shift that glow must be softer. The real proof of Night Shift’s success for me is that twice this week I’ve been woken by my alarm, switched it off and have fallen straight back to sleep (only managing to get to work through the grace of my fiancée). I’ve probably only done this once a year or so and for it to happen twice in one week doesn’t seem like a complete coincidence to me. I just think that thanks to a less broken sleep pattern, I am in a much deeper slumber and find it harder to rouse myself from it, both a good and a bad thing.
Overall I would highly recommend Night Shift to anyone that has a device that offers it. In my short time testing it, it has definitely made a change to my sleeping pattern and the feeling of actually being tired before sleep is very welcome. It is, of course, possible that some of these results are from the placebo effect but only time will tell if there is a genuine change. I will definitely continue to use the feature as it is free, more comfortable on the eyes and doesn’t require any further action from the user once set up. Here’s to a goodnight’s sleep for everyone!
Have you tried Night Shift? If so, let me know your findings in the comments below.