The pile of proof that blue light is wrecking your sleep keeps piling up and mobile devices are major contributors to blue light exposure after dark.
Exposure to excessive light at night, including extended use of various electronic media, can disrupt sleep or exacerbate sleep disorders. ~ The American Medical Association
This Harvard Health Letter recommends avoiding screens two to three hours before bed.
But let's be honest, that's not likely to happen.
So what can you do?
Filter out the blue light.
While blue light can be good for you (sunlight contains blue light), it also has a dark side. Especially before bed.
Because the blue part of the light spectrum basically tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime.
When your body thinks its daytime, it suppresses the secretion of melatonin. And melatonin is a hormone you need at night to prepare your body for sleep.
The good news is that you can trick your body right back.
You simply need to filter out the blue light and there are now features built into some phone as well as apps available that can help you do just that.
How do they work?
It's pretty simple really. These apps change the color temperature of your device's display based on the time of day.
During daylight hours they do nothing. But as the sun starts to set in your time zone, they adjust and dim your screen's color temperature.
This warming of your screen's colour spectrum helps reduce eye strain. More importantly, it reduces your blue light exposure before bed.
And that, most scientists agree, is a very good thing for your health.
So how can you filter blue light on your phone or tablet?
iPhone owners have it easiest.
As of iOS version 9.3, Apple has offered the Night Shift feature.
It's quick to enable. Just go to Settings > Display & Brightness and scroll down to the "Night Shift" menu. From there you can schedule the times you'd like Night Shift to work as well as control the temperature of the screen.
If your phone doesn't already support blue light filtering (Android phones do not come with this feature yet) or you'd like a bit more control over temperatures and timings, there are many apps available that can help.
The Best Blue Light Filtering Apps
Using your location, this app automatically adjusts the color temperature of your display. It works on iPhone, rooted Android devices and desktop computers.
Don't have a rooted Android device? This app a great alternative. It offers blue light filtering and adaptive brightness controls. Even if your phone doesn't have an ambient light sensor, it can use your camera to adjust screen brightness.
Twilight combines a red light filter with advanced screen brightness controls to help you avoid blue light before bedtime. The app creators also claim that it can improve the life of the AMOLED screens used on many high-end mobile phones. It'll even hook up with smart lightbulbs in your home to help reduce blue light in your surroundings!
Of course, the best solution is to avoid screentime a couple of hours before bed. Even with a blue light filter, it's easy to fall down a social media rabbit hole, binge watch one too many episodes on Netflix or play one round too many of your favorite game.
All of the apps highlighted offer everything you might need for free.
While some offer advanced controls for a small upgrade fee, we found they weren't needed to get benefit from the app.
Setup is simple. Just download the app and enter your location. If you have GPS enabled, you might not even need to do that!
Better sleep has endless benefits. We hope these tips help you catch a few more Z's.
P.S. Looking to improve benefits even more? Reducing mobile distractions before bed is another useful bio hack. The "Do Not Disturb" mode on your phone or tablet makes this easy.
It only takes a few minutes to set things up and both platforms allow you to mute only certain notifications without worrying about missing crucial ones.
P.P.S. Are we using our phones? Or are they using us? Explore the case for ditching your smartphone and the wisdom of the dumb phone.