By Jennifer Hernandez
Electronics are woven into our daily lives. We send late-night emails and cuddle up with our phones to check our newsfeed before bed, but our fondness for bright white screens may be harming our sleeping patterns.
Light in electronics is heavily composed of attention-boosting, blue wavelengths, which prevent the release of melatonin, a hormone that regulates our internal clocks and assists with sleep. Blue light suppresses melatonin more powerfully than any other kind of light, which can lead to health issues like lack of sleep or even cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
However, sometimes those emails and project details just can’t wait.
A new software called f.lux works with your circadian rhythm and surroundings to adjust the light and color on your screens so they don’t deter your sleep. Here are four ways f.lux — available for Mac OS X, Windows, iPhone and iPad — can help you work hard and sleep better.
- Uses red light
f.lux uses red light because it is least likely to suppress melatonin. The software adjusts colors on your screen to reduce the stimulating effects of blue light.
- Adjusts to your environment
By tuning into the time of day, f.lux makes your screen fit your surroundings. During the day, it brightens the colors on your computer like sunlight, helping you stay alert. At night, it emanates warm colors from the screen, making it easier to wind down for bed.
- Adapts to your personal circadian rhythm
Not everyone wakes up and goes to sleep at the same time. The software allows you to input times you wake up and go to bed so it has an idea of the environment you’re in and can work with your body’s natural release of melatonin to give off the correct light.
- Understands variety
For people whose work schedules change, f.lux offers three automatic settings — daytime, sunset and bedtime — so you can choose the screen light you prefer at any given time. On nights when you’re on the computer unusually late, you can still opt for the daytime brightness. You can also disable f.lux with the “working late” setting for extra color accuracy.