Staring at the sun
Do you tend to stay up late in studio, staring at the computer screen? Ever have trouble sleeping afterwards?
Sleep deprivation sucks. Sleepless nights happen to me quite often and I hate it.
I have really come to value sleep and the importance of sufficient rest. Needless to say it has a huge effect on creativity and productivity.
Obviously there can be many different things contributing to insomnia. Staying up late in front of bright screens is just one cause of sleep problems. Anyway, I’ve recently discovered an app called F.Lux that really helps me so I wanted to share it. But first some quick background on the problem itself.
During the day, computer screens look good—they’re designed to look like the sun. But, at 9PM, 10PM, or 3AM, you probably shouldn’t be looking at the sun. -F.Lux
You’ve probably heard it before: stay away from bright screens before bedtime. Why is that? It comes down to melatonin.
Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by pineal gland (a pea-sized gland inside our brain). It regulates our sleep-wake cycle. Sunlight (and other bright blue lights) causes melatonin production to stop.
You can probably see where I’m getting at now?
Staying up late in front of a bright screen is the equivalent of telling your brain that it’s noon. Your brain is confused, you can’t sleep and so the insomnia begins.
For some it may not be this extreme. Even if you’re not having trouble getting sleep, the exposure to a bright screen in the evening might still be affecting the quality of sleep.
This is cold hard science. There is tons of research done on this subject.
I really do think it’s best to stay away from screens completely before going to bed. Get your eyes off artificial light and your mind off work. You will sleep better that way. But there are times when that’s just not possible. Being an entrepreneur myself, I know that sometimes work just needs to get done.
So when staying away from the computer is not an option… What’s the next best thing? Turning down the brightness of your screen helps a bit. But it’s still blue light – just not quite as bright.
F.Lux is a brilliant little program that I recently stumbled across.
It automatically changes the warmth (color) of your screen based on time and your location. When the sun starts to set, your screen starts to go warmer.
At the same time, F.Lux observes the amount of light in your surroundings (if your computer has a webcam) and adjusts the brightness of your screen to fit the situation. Turn off the lights in your room and the screen goes darker.
This fully automatic screen enhancement helps to keep your natural melatonin production process functioning. When you are ready to go to bed you fall asleep more easily and the quality of sleep increases.
It may sound like hocus pocus but I’ve been test driving this app for a couple of weeks now and my experience is that it really does work.
It seems the devs have gone to great lengths in figuring out the science behind it.
Best of all, F.Lux is free.
It’s also available for all platforms: Windows, Linux, Mac and even for iPhone & iPad.
There’s no excuse for not trying it out.
Set-up and Use
F.Lux is very simple. You just set it up and forget it.
You also enter your location in order to coordinate the program’s actions with sunset/sunrise. I have mine set to Italy in fact because at this time of year the sunset in Finland is very late (almost midnight).
That’s it. On the Mac version you have a little icon at the top right corner of the screen (not sure of Win/Linux versions). Using that icon you can quickly enter preferences or disable F.Lux in case you need to see the screen in true colors.
It seems to me that too often technology and health are two opposite directions. It doesn’t have to be that way. F-Lux is a perfect example.
If you are like me and tend to stay up late on the computer sometimes, I highly recommend this program. Even if you’re not actually having trouble sleeping, I believe it makes sense to apply any solution that reduces artificial fatigue on our health.
For further information about sleep, check out understandingsleep.org.
Off to bed now… Sleep tight!