Those who regularly are unable to easily fall asleep and stay asleep may finally be able to stop their search for the reason. Current research has shown that those who suffer from difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep tend to spend a large amount of time on their phones before making their way to bed. It is not the content on the devices or the device itself causing this lack of sleep, but instead the blue light that the device’s screen gives off to the user’s eyes.
Devices that are used before bed such as phones, tablets, and laptops all utilize LED lights in their screens to provide crisp, clear images. In order to produce these detailed images, the LED lights give off different wavelengths of visible light, which includes a wavelength related to blue lights. Everyone has a circadian rhythm that regulates their natural sleep pattern based off of environmental cycles like night and day, but the blue light wavelength tricks the brain into thinking that night is day. This unforeseen consequence shifts the user’s natural sleep patterns off from the environmental pattern and forces them to have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Harvard researchers have found that being exposed to 6.5 hours of exposure to blue wavelengths a day can shift the natural circadian rhythm of the user by 3 full hours, forcing the user into poor sleep habits.
While this issue seems completely unavoidable, Apple added their own possible solution by introducing ‘Night Shift’ into iPhones within IOS 9.3. The night shift option allows the user to take out the blue light from the screen altogether to limit the sleep issues caused by blue light wavelengths in LED screens. Apple recommends using this option after 10 pm in order to avoid negative effects on the user’s circadian rhythms. Other installable software like Flux carry out the same process for laptops and desktops, turning off the blue light and hopefully giving heavy users the ability to have a normal sleep cycle.