Q. I like to use my phone before I go to sleep. I check email, read Facebook and play games to relax and get my mind quiet.
But I’ve heard that the light from my phone can affect my sleep and I have to admit, I’m not sleeping as well as I used to.
Do you have any advice on how I can keep using my phone before I go to bed but get a better night’s sleep?
A. You’re not alone. Many people like to use their phones or tablets before they fall asleep, but the light from devices can affect sleep patterns.
You may be able to reduce the effect your phone has on your sleep by filtering the blue light on its screen. Recent studies have shown that within the light spectrum, blue light is especially disruptive to sleep.
See, Harvard Health Letter, Blue light has a dark side.
One study in the UK showed that blue light actually works as stimulant. Drivers who were exposed to blue light became as alert as those who drank two cups of coffee. Daily Mail, How a blue light in your car ‘is as good as coffee at keeping you alert at the wheel’.
If you want to keep using your device at night, try a blue light filter to help you sleep. By filtering blue light from the screen, you will be reducing the most stimulating light in the spectrum. While not as effective as keeping your device turned off, blue light filters may help you sleep better.
Updates to the iPhone, iPad and Amazon Fire tablet have added blue light filters to help address sleep issues while using these devices at night. Blue light filter apps are also available for Android devices. These filters work across all apps on your device so you don’t have to adjust your settings for each app.
Night Shift – iPhone and iPad
When iOS 9.3 was released by Apple earlier this year, iPhone and iPad users got Night Shift, a blue light filter. Night Shift is available on newer iPhone and iPad devices, including the iPhone 5s and later and the iPad Air and later.
Using Night Shift
Night Shift can be set up to turn on the filter automatically every night or you can turn it on manually at any time.
To enable Night Shift to turn on automatically every night, go to:
Settings => Display & Brightness => Night Shift
On the Night Shift settings screen, slide the switch to schedule Night Shift.
The schedule can be set for Night Shift to go on and off at specific times, or at sunset and sunrise. If you choose sunset to sunrise, your iPhone/iPad will figure out when sunset and sunrise are in your location.
In Settings you can also turn on Night Shift manually until tomorrow and adjust the color temperature of the filter.
Night Shift in Control Center
Night Shift can also be turned on and off in Control Center on your iPhone and iPad.
Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open the Control Center panel. The eclipsed sun icon is for Night Shift. Tap it to turn Night Shift on or off at any time.
Blue Shade – Amazon Fire Tablets
In an update to Fire tablets at the end of last year, Amazon introduced Blue Shade to filter blue light.
To turn on Blue Shade on a Fire tablet, swipe down from the top of the screen and tap Blue Shade. Adjust the color by tapping on Settings => Display => Blue Shade. You can drag the slider bar to change the color from red moon light to yellow candlelight.
Blue Shade does not have an automatic setting, it must be turned on and off manually.
Blue Shade is available on Fire HD 6 (4th Generation), Fire HD 7 (4th Generation), Fire HDX 8.9 (4th Generation), Fire (5th Generation), Fire HD 8 (5th Generation), and Fire HD 10 (5th Generation).
Twilight App – Android Devices
Twilight is a free app that filters blue light on your Android device screen. This app can work automatically throughout the night or you can control when it turns on and off.
In the app settings, you can adjust the intensity of the filter, the color temperature and the time the filter turns on and off.
As day turns to night, Twilight adds its filter, then removes the filter as the new day dawns. You can also turn the filter on and off manually.
Twilight works across all apps, though some app settings might be disabled when Twilight’s filter is in use.
This video explains how Twilight works to help improve your sleep:
Twilight is available free for Android devices in the Google Play store.
Do you like to use your phone or tablet before you go to sleep? Have you noticed your sleep has been affected by looking at a screen at night? Have you tried a blue light filter?
Share your thoughts in the Comments section below!
* Blue Eye image (edited) courtesy of Felicity Berkleef via Flickr and Creative Commons