The Impact of Apple’s Night Shift

Night Shift is Apple’s iOS 9.3 answer to healthy technology. In four clicks, your phone might just help you sleep better. The Orlando LASIK specialists at Magruder Laser Vision have found that many of their patients use smartphones before bed, which may interrupt their ability to fall asleep quickly. With Night Shift, the “shift” signifies the body’s characteristic reliance on the color spectrum to help it ascertain wake and sleep scheduling.

The human body is programmed to respond to light because of a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin helps the body prepare for sleep when it is stimulated at night by a lack of sunlight. In the morning, the sun rises and melatonin gives up its hold on the body.

Apple understands that many of its users keep their phones within reach every evening, and checking email or Facebook one last time before bed may disrupt sleep if the lighting is overly bright. Therefore, the function of Night Shift is to change the background of all pages and apps to a softer, warmer hue. This variation in hue removes the harshest of colors – blue – that tends to stimulate our bodies to alertness.

As far as the warm versus cold color spectrum is concerned, yellows, oranges, and reds (think of a sunset) are warm whereas white and blue (think of ice) are cold. These so-called colder colors suppress melatonin and our bodies interpret this suppression as a great time to be alert. By changing the color of the background to a warmer hue, Apple is hoping melatonin will react. Night Shift is simple to set: Open “Settings,” then “Display & Brightness.” Tap “Night Shift,” and set the time you would like your iPhone to take on a more subdued hue. If it is within that time frame when you change the setting, the background will automatically shift.

The National Institute of Health compiled statistics in a study concerning blue light and sleep patterns, noting “…30 minutes of 500 lux polychromatic blue light an hour before bedtime…delayed the onset of rapid eye movement sleep by 30 minutes.” Dieter Kunz, a past director of the Sleep Research and Clinical Chronobiology Research Group at the Berlin Charite-Universitatsmedizin teaching hospital firmly believes many prevalent sleep disorders are related to bright evening and night-time light, which he categorizes as “epidemic.”

For best results, the ultimate solution is to give up looking at screens entirely before bed. In the real world, though, that just does not happen. Apple’s solution may not bring relief to every individual, but it certainly is a step in the right direction. If you are experiencing eye strain or blurriness while reading the latest news on your smartphone, contact the Orlando LASIK specialists at Magruder Laser Vision at 407-843-5665 to schedule an appointment today. Our blog page gives detailed information on many of our procedures and great tips on keeping your eyes healthy.