How many nights have you stayed up to the wee hours of the morning surfing Facebook or Twitter? It might be high time you rethink that.
It’s been a widely discussed issue for some time now — light, specifically blue, affects our circadian rhythms, our natural sleep patterns. Electronic devices are the biggest culprit in this light emission, but it seems Apple is coming to the rescue. Of course.
In the most recent iOS update, 9.3, the company has released a brand new mode to help bring its users some much needed sleep. It’s called Night Shift. The company claims that the mode will automatically detect when the sun is setting based on your location and shift the colors in the device to the warmer side of the spectrum. Once it’s morning, the spectrum will shift back to its normal settings without you having to lift a finger. It won’t eliminate blue light, but it’s supposed to help decrease exposure to those energetic rays.
Harvard Medical has done a study on light and its effect on the circadian rhythm. Very simply, the circadian rhythm is the body’s ‘biological clock.’ Back in the day, sunrise and sunset were what naturally aligned our circadian rhythms. Then, artificial light came into the picture.
For the most part, exposure to blue light during the day is actually good for you. The color boosts mood, reaction time and alertness. It’s when your body is trying to rest and recuperate from the wear of the day that it can become dangerous. The same study found there might be a connection to cancer, diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
The biggest effects of blue light are on melatonin secretion. Melatonin is one of the hormones most linked to our circadian rhythms. It’s naturally secreted in darkness by the pineal gland in our brains. This hormone is also commonly seen in nutrition tablets to aid sleep. Blue light happens to be the biggest suppressor of melatonin in the light spectrum.
So why are things like Apple’s Night Shift important? It’s simply because we can’t take ourselves away from our devices. Social media plays on this, video games play on this. Our lives are very dependent on electronic assistance, and it’s becoming a problem on a scale we can’t even begin to imagine.
Sleep, ensuring that your body is well-fed and hydrated, is one of the most important things you must do. Finals are on their way; stress is creeping up, and it’s going to be hard to make sure to get a full night’s rest. Bodies and minds cannot function properly without sleep, and it’s time to be proactive about that health.
Don’t be afraid to cut off from the world before bed. At least an hour before, take the time to put your devices, assignments, study guides and everything else away. Focus on you before you focus on anything else. Synthetic reliance isn’t the answer here, and Night Shift isn’t going to do you any true favors.