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Night Shifted

Is Night Shift really helping you sleep better?

Cami Buckley:

It’s widely believed that the emitted blue light from phones disrupts melatonin secretion and sleep cycles. To reduce this blue light emission and the strain on eyes, Apple introduced an iOS feature called Night Shift in 2016; a feature that adjusts the screen’s colors to warmer hues after sunset. Android phones soon followed with a similar option, and now most smartphones have some sort of night mode function that claims to help users sleep better.

Until recently, claims of better sleep due to Night Shift have been theoretical. However, a new study from BYU published in Sleep Health challenges the premise made by phone manufacturers and found that the Night Shift functionality does not actually improve sleep.

I’ve always wondered whether Night Shift, and similar technologies to dim your screen, actually made any difference. From experience, when I have had sleepless nights and looked at my iPad for a while, it was having the screen up near my face that caused me to struggle to get back to sleep.

I have a feeling that Night Shift is less of a health benefit and more of an excuse for staring at your device late at night. The better solution — having your device away from your bedside, or face down, during the night — may be good for you, but not so much for device and app makers.

Since I changed my sleep pattern and started going to bed earlier, I reckon I’ve not even seen Night Shift kick in that often, so I’m turning it off for now to see if I’m correct. The one or two times when I’ve stayed up late, I’ve definitely noticed the effect of being in front of a screen at those hours!

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