Your iPhone’s Night Shift won’t help you sleep better, study finds

Your iPhone’s Night Shift won’t help you sleep better, study finds
Humans are highly visual creatures - half of our brain is devoted to processing visual information and we rely heavily on visual cues for almost everything. That’s one of the reasons why different wavelengths of light can affect us so much.

In recent years, many studies have pointed out that certain wavelengths that we perceive as blue light can affect the production of melatonin in our brain. In layman’s terms - if you stare into bluish screens before bed, you might have trouble falling asleep.

It’s not a new thing and many display and smartphone manufacturers have included filters to battle this effect. Apple for example introduced an iOS feature called Night Shift in 2016 that changes the color temperature of the screen to warmer hues after sunset.

A recent study from Brigham Young University (BYU), however, questions the effectiveness of such filters. BYU psychology professor Chad Jensen and researchers from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center compared the sleep outcomes of three different groups of test subjects.

The first group used the Night Shift function turned on when using their phones, the second had it turned off, and the third group did not use a phone at all before bedtime. It turned out that there are no discernible differences between the three groups in total sleep duration, sleep quality, wake after sleep onset, and the time it took people to fall asleep.

“In the whole sample, there were no differences across the three groups,” Jensen said. “Night Shift is not superior to using your phone without Night Shift or even using no phone at all.”

The study suggests that other factors are more important than blue light alone in creating difficulty falling or staying asleep. Some of these factors include cognitive engagement, psychological stimuli - in other words, it’s much more important what you actually do with your phone before bed, rather than whether you have Night Shift on or off.

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