For all the benefits of modern-day smartphones, there’s one area in which they certainly don’t help: giving us a good night’s rest.
It isn’t just the distraction or mental stimulation. It turns out the blue light of the phone itself could have a serious impact on your body clock, especially if you tend to check it right before dozing off. This light – which your brain associates with daylight – can often convince your body to stay awake.
As of today, however, this impact could be drastically reduced.
A free new update – available to download right now for most iPhone and iPad users – introduces an optional “Night Shift” mode. This setting slowly reduces the blue light your screen emits later in the day, which could make a very genuine difference for many.
If you’ve purchased your iPhone or iPad in the last two years, you should be able to download the update now. For those with slightly older devices, an update is expected shortly. To find out if you can get it now, just follow these steps…
- Open your phone’s “Settings” app
- Scroll down to “General”
- Look for “Software Update”. If it offers version 9.3 or higher, you’re in luck!
- If an update is available, simply follow the instructions to install it. (Please note that you should ideally be connected to wifi and have your phone charging while doing this, as it can sometimes take up quite a bit of power and data.)
Once you have installed the update, Night Shift should be available in your settings.
According to Apple, “many studies have shown that exposure to bright blue light in the evening can affect your circadian rhythms and make it harder to fall asleep”.
“Night Shift uses your iOS device’s clock and geolocation to determine when it’s sunset in your location. Then it automatically shifts the colours in your display to the warmer end of the spectrum, making it easier on your eyes.
“In the morning, it returns the display to its regular settings. Pleasant dreams.”
It is believed that blue light slows down the production of melatonin (which helps the body feel sleepy). As such, some sleep experts recommend shutting off all screens an hour before bedtime.
Dr Maree Barnes of the Sleep Health Foundation told The New Daily that while this is a step in the right direction, it’s far better to avoid screen stimulation before bedtime.
“The reason you’re staying awake when you’re on Instagram before bed isn’t just the blue light,” she said. “It’s also the intellectual stimulation”.
Do you struggle with sleep? Have you installed this update yet? Do you believe it will help?