The light emitted from our LED screens is said to cause numerous problems for our health including bleary eyes, insomnia, and headaches. This is because the screens are designed to look like the sun and be bright enough to read clearly. However, when it gets to 9PM, 10PM, or 3AM, this becomes problematic as you probably shouldn’t still be looking at something designed to mirror the sun if you want to get to sleep.
Indeed, the most common claim about blue light is that it sabotages your sleep schedule because it messes with your circadian rhythm (AKA your internal clock that tells you when it’s time to sleep or be awake). As a result of this, sleep experts recommend that we should be turning off our electronic devices an hour before bedtime.
However, for many of us, this is simply not realistic. Reading something on your phone or watching TV on your laptop right before going to bed is a regular part of many of our routines. Luckily, there are ways to reduce our exposure to blue light that are easy to implement and may give you the best of both worlds.
Blue-light filtering glasses
Blue light blocking glasses have specially crafted lenses that are said to block or filter out the blue light given off from digital screens. The lenses claim to protect your eyes from glare and can help reduce potential damage to your retina, less eyestrain and improved sleep habits that may be harmed from prolonged exposure to blue light. Yet, while there is a fair amount of hype around these glasses, the science behind whether they can help protect your eyes from retinal damage, eye strain and fatigue is, surprisingly, inconclusive.
In the United Kingdom, for example, the Association of Optometrists says there is “a lack of high quality evidence to support using blue blocking spectacle lenses for the general population to improve visual performance or sleep quality, alleviate eye fatigue or conserve macular health.”
Nonetheless, if you spend more than six hours a day at a computer and already wear glasses, your optician will usually recommend you add the filter as one tactic that help reduce eye strain. There are a variety of adverts online and on social media from outlets that sell these glasses. However, to be sure you are getting the best quality information and advice, it is always worth making an appointment with an optician first, to assess your opticians.
Download a blue light filter on your laptop
If you want to avoid having to make a purchase, one way to reduce your exposure to blue light is to download a computer programme that adjusts the level for you.
F.lux, for example, works by automatically calibrating the device’s display colour temperature to account for time of day, based on sunrise and sunset at the chosen location. At sunset, it will gradually change the colour temperature to a warmer colour and restore the original colour at sunrise. All you need to do is put your time zone in.
There is also the option to disable it for a period of time so if you need to accurately work out what the colour of your online order would be, for instance, you can click ‘disable for one hour’. It will also work whether you have a PC or Mac.
Use Night Shift on your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch
If you use another Apple device in bed, you can use a feature called ‘Night Shift’ to reduce the blue light levels. In a similar way to F.lux, Night Shift automatically adjusts the colours of your display to the warmer end of the spectrum using the clock and geolocation of your device to determine when it’s sunset in your location. Then it automatically shifts the colours of your display to warmer colours. In the morning, it returns the display to its regular settings. To use Night Shift, you’ll need iOS 9.3 or later.
There are two ways to turn Night Shift on and off:
- Open Control Centre. Firmly press the Brightness control icon, then tap the brightness icon (a sun with a moon inside) to turn Night Shift on or off.
- Go to Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift. On the same screen, you can schedule a time for Night Shift to turn on automatically and adjust colour temperature.
By default, Night Shift turns on from sunset to sunrise.
Activate night mode as a default setting on your Android
So long as your Android has reasonably up-to-date software, you can enable night mode like so:
- Go to Settings > Display > Night Light
- Configure it so that Night Light will turn on and off automatically at certain times
If you don’t think you have the software, or can’t find the setting on your phone, you can always download an app on the Google Play store.
While blue light is often blamed for a number of eye problems, there are many other reasons your eyes may become irritated from a long day working on your computer because your eyes are constantly shifting focus and moving while looking at the screen. It is always worth seeking the advice of a professional if you are worried or experiencing eye discomfort.
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