Can Apple’s Night Shift color-shifting display really help you fall asleep faster?

“Last week, Apple released iOS 9.3 and introduced ‘Night Shift’ — a way of modifying the computer’s display so that less blue light is present — to millions of iPhones and iPads,” Elizabeth Lopatto reports for The Verge.

“The feature, if enabled, will automatically take effect when the sun goes down, making the phone look ‘warmer’ as the screen displays more of the yellow-orange end of the spectrum,” Lopatto reports. “In its description of Night Shift, Apple insinuates that it is designed to help you fall asleep easier, if you happen to be up late using your smartphone or tablet.”

“All three experts [we consulted] agree: removing blue light — assuming the Apple filter is effective — won’t necessarily make you sleep better or prevent the side-effects of eyestrain, like headaches. (None of the experts I called mentioned any harmful side-effects from Night Shift; at worst, it’s probably just ineffective),” Lopatto reports. “The best way to fall asleep easily is the same as it ever was: don’t use your electronic devices late into the evening. Night Shift may help, but it’s not the magic solution for sweet dreams.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: For us, Apple’s Night Shift works, just like F.lux has worked on our Macs for quite some time. Whether its a placebo effect or real, who cares? It works for us! We expect we’ll see Night Shift for OS X at WWDC 2016 in June.

25 Comments

  1. I think that was a ridiculous claim. The warmer, softer color may be more relaxing on the eyes, but I’ve turned down the screen brightness for years at night. What nods me off to sleep is a particularly boring passage of reading. Works every time.

      1. In fact it is the blue wavelengths of light that clues in our internal clocks as to the natural circadian rhythm (24 hr light cycle). By cutting down the blue you will not mess with your internal biological clock, whereas even turning down brightness will still mess with the biological clock, because it is the blue light that your body cues in on. While using a device with Night-Shift could still effect you a little. The effect will be much less than using a device that does not have Night-Shift, even if that device has the brightness turned down. It has nothing to due with eye-strain, different phenomena.

  2. Shifting to a yellow tone does help with eye strain, but I’d recommend teaching yourself going to bed at a decent hour. 😉

    In the end, it’s will power.

  3. I started using red LED lights at night to help me sleep about 4 years ago. I keep a red LED light on my nightstand all night long – I sleep like a rock every night. THe lLED shifts to blue about 20 minutes before my alarm goes off – and I usually wake up about 2 minutes before my alarm. There is a lot of science behind the red/blue influence on melatonin which affects sleep.

  4. Well, before it was available, my sleep time was erratic. Since the install, I’ve used night shift regularly & my sleep patterns have stabilized, I’m sleeping better & longer. So yeah it’s works for me!

    1. Basically the same thing as Night Shift

      In fact, it was released back in 2009

      I actually like it a more than night shift personally since it has the option to gradually shift the temperature over an hour rather than seconds like night shift

  5. Bells Palsy has left me with slightly dilated eyes. I use Night Shift at about 20% full-time . It helps immensely calming the flashlight effect of the menu bars and borders.
    Thank you, Thank you Apple.

        1. Well, to be fair, the Transmission ransomware situation was due to a combination of factors. One of them was, apparently, a security hole in the web technology at the Transmission download site. But another was abuse of Apple’s security certificate system, which clearly has some maturation to do on a couple different levels.

          I personally was pleased how swiftly both problem sources caught the problem and mitigated the damage. We only heard of a few (slightly debatable) people being caught by the ransomware when it activated itself.

          1. I used f.lux now.
            It certainly is better for the eyes
            But the software itself is not Apple-like
            The function are all buggy and not really smooth.

            For Example, temporary disable it sometimes doesn’t really work, I have to reenable, then disable, like 3 times the effort.

            Movie mode just making the screen going white and red back and forth, I don’t understand what’s going on, is it really the feature? is it a bug? i just dont use this feature anymore.

            When playing an HTML5 player on safari, I want to watch the video with flux enabled, but the video becomes threshold with the white part of the video being distorted.

            Other than that, it’s ok.

  6. I’ve been using a technique that is easily available for years and it works very well. I have not seen it mentioned before anywhere else so… here goes.

    Three steps: set the triple click of the home button to Invert Colors. At night then just invert the colors, lower the brightness to about 5% then in Safari always use Reader View. Make text size as needed.

    Text is now a white on a black background. Dimmed so you can read while not disturbing others in the room.

    In the morning, triple click the home button, and let auto brightness set the screen brightness back to normal.

    Been doing this for years and it works great!

    1. I’m sure it does, but it does NOT address the issue that NightShift does: the colour temperature of the display and the way it affects your body’s natural rhythm.

      While our brain effortlessly adjusts for this, so that we can always perceive the world around us as evenly lit with white light, the actual colour temperature of ambient light varies significantly between the early morning sunlight, bright blue sky, overcast, or sunset, not to even mention candle light at night. Bring into this mix artificial light, such as incandescent, neon, LED and other electric light sources, and the range of that colour temperature goes from below 2,000K to well over 7,000K. What our eyes see is light ranging from very orange to very blue, bordering purple. Brain adjusts the colours, so we don’t see the tinting. However, thanks to thousands of years of evolution, our body associates cold light (=blue) with daylight (and active state), and warm light (sunset / burning fire) with night time (and resting state). Even when we started extending our days using artificial light, it was still initially quite warm (burning fire, incandescent bulbs). It wasn’t until neon and LED that we got cold, daylight-type of artificial light sources. Our bodies will need a few more centuries to evolve around this; meanwhile, it helps us very much if the last light we see before we go to sleep is warm (orange) rather than cold (blue).

      Night Shift is a great tool for those who must read in bed before going to sleep but prefer an Apple device over a physical book.

      1. There is a good reason why all office (and other work environment) lighting is neon (which is usually very cold light source), and places of rest (homes, restaurants, etc) old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs.

        The move from incandescent to CFL (compact flourescent) is disrupting this a bit, as by default, it emits very cold light, unless the tube itself is tinted orange to compensate. Most people don’t bother looking at the colour temperature and buy whatever is available, which is often labeled as ‘bright white’ (i.e. cold blue light), rather than ‘soft white’ (warm orange light). At Home Depot, it seems that they have five times as many ‘bright white’ bulbs than ‘soft white’. This makes it extremely likely that ordinary folks who don’t know about this will end up buying cold light for their homes (and bedrooms), affecting their bodies.

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