Apple has introduced a new Night Shift feature in iOS 9.3 which will let you change the color temperature of the display and supposedly help you sleep.
The idea is to shift away from blue spectrums of light and improve the quality of sleep. However Apple is covering its back and not making any promises, writes Glenn Fleishman for Macworld.
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Apple introduces Night Shift on iOS 9.3
As Apple notes: “Many studies have shown that exposure to bright blue light in the evening can affect your circadian rhythms and make it harder to fall asleep.” By reducing the blue light, the company says that Night Shift “may help you get a better night’s sleep.”
However clinical studies suggest otherwise. There has been no evidence that mobile devices or laptop computers are to blame for poor sleep patterns.
Night Shift also removes a small amount of blue light, likely too small to make a difference. Researchers now believe that blue light may not be the anti-sleep demon that it has previously been painted as.
Sleep problems a major problem in modern society
The new feature has yet to be tested by scientists but it seems unlikely to have much effect. However it could act as a reminder to people to wind down from their devices.
Another idea would be to create a Night Safe feature, which would lock you out of your device until morning except in case of emergency. As it stands we are left with the advice of sleep researchers who suggest powering down your device 2 hours before bed.
Sleep has become something of a modern obsession, and not getting enough can cause illness, obesity and diabetes. There is even evidence of an increased risk of cancer.
Researchers have been looking into our natural circadian rhythm to work out what factors of modern life are shaking us out of sync. One groundbreaking piece of research showed that levels of the hormone melatonin began to increase around 2 hours before our natural sleep cycle starts.
Is blue light the real culprit?
Blue light is found to disrupt hormone production, and it is emitted in high quantities by television sets, monitors and mobile devices. It is thought that blue light could be connected with health problems in nations where people use technological devices around bedtime.
Other programs exist which promise to reduce the amount of blue light emitted by your display, but Apple brings the feature to around 500 million devices. The issue is that mobile devices might not be to blame.
Ray Soneira, the president of DisplayMate, a company that makes video-diagnostic hardware and software, says that the situation is more complicated. “Just slightly reducing the blue, which is what most apps do, won’t accomplish much, so the improvements people experience are often mostly due to placebo and their own conscious modification of their behavior in using displays,” he said.
Mariana G. Figueiro, a professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the program director of its Lighting Research Center, says that brain activity is also important. “Disruption of sleep is not just melatonin suppression; it’s what you’re doing to your brain to keep it alert,” she says.
She says that Night Shift could help but you should completely switch off two hours before sleep. “These programs help, but they don’t completely remove the possibility of suppressing melatonin.”