If you're like me at night, you're lying in fetal position in bed, squinting at the relentless light, spooning your phone — which you've put on vertical lock so that you can lazily swipe sideways until you swipe right for sleep. But guess what, once I teach you how to use Night Shift on your phone, you can at least remove the squint from your night. Among the many game-changing announcements that were made at yesterday's Apple Keynote March 2016 event, the new iOS 9.3 boasts a new feature called Night Shift that will both change the way you look at your phone at night (literally) and change the way you sleep.
A study published by the National Institute of Health states that:
"...exposing healthy subjects to 30 minutes of 500 lux polychromatic blue light an hour before bedtime, in their natural home environment, delayed the onset of rapid eye movement sleep by 30 minutes."
Yes, that relentless light has a name — 500 lux polychromatic blue light. So, in this study, participants who used their iPhones before bed and exposed their eyes to that light for an hour, had a harder time falling into a deep sleep than people who did not expose their eyes to blue light. OK, why? Well, melatonin is the brain hormone that helps us sleep. Its production is naturally effected by changes in light — less is produced when the eyes are exposed to light — the evolutionary benefits of this effect are obvious. So while all light slows melatonin production, blue light slows it the most significantly. What developers have figured out is that warmer lights (which the eye registers as darker) do less to slow the production of melatonin.
If this new feature isn't that much of a surprise for you, you're probably aware of F.lux, the software that brought forth this technology and reasoning back in 2009. They're both based on the same principle that the screen should gradually become warmer after the sun sets. You can still use F.lux on your Mac if you're a die-hard devotee, but it isn't available for iPhones. You'll just have to use Night Shift, which is now available for download within iOS 9.3. And if you're curious about my two cents, it's always better to use Apple-regulated apps on Apple products. Having the technical support of Apple is always the better bet — which is exactly why Night Shift will make an even larger impact of iPhone users than any software that preceded it.
OK, here's how to use it:
Download the new iOS 9.3. You'll need to be connected to WiFi and have sufficient battery power.
Go to Settings, select Displays and Brightness, and click Night Shift.
Once you're here, you can adjust the settings to best suit your lifestyle. Play around with increasing and decreasing the warmth of the screen and schedule your Night Shift. Remember you can always modify your settings on the swipe up shortcut screen, it will appear as the center icon.
Get into bed, spoon your phone and sigh with the blissful relief of not having to squint.
Go to sleep — the warm light shouldn't keep you from it.