Working or playing on your laptop or mobile device right before bed can ruin your sleep in non-obvious ways. Yes, the devices can hinder winding down your mind, but that’s not the biggest issue. The main issue is exposure to unnatural light that inhibits the neurochemistry of sleep.
Exposure to blue light increases alertness. This makes sense. During the day we get exposed to the blue light of the sky. Thus, the brain interprets exposure to blue light as a cue that it’s time to be awake.
Blue light is great if you’re looking to be more productive. The opposite is true if you’re looking to fall asleep and wake up refreshed. Neurochemically this is because blue light suppresses the release of melatonin - a sleep-promoting hormone.
So what can we do? The obvious and most healthy answer is to stop looking at screens before going to bed. Yet there are alternative strategies.
F.lux works by adapting the tint of color emitted from your screen to match the time of the day. As day turns to night, the software shifts the hues from blue light to warmer tones.
If you’d like to give it a try, You can download F.lux here.
It is available for Windows, Linux, and jailbroken iOS devices.
What’s in a Color? The Unique Human Health Effects of Blue Light Holzman DC 2010. What’s in a Color? The Unique Human Health Effects of Blue Light. Environ Health Perspect 118:A22-A27. doi:10.1289/ehp.118-a22
Josiah Hultgren is the founder of MindFullyAlive - a website about brain science for lifehackery and radical transformation. He is also a Senior Lecturer at California Lutheran University.