Struggling to sleep after working late?

Struggling to sleep after working late?

Reading time - 3-4 minutes

With the business of modern life, people often need to extend their workday into the evening. This means that they may be sitting in front of a computer screen until late. It is even more common for people to use their phones or tablets late at night, perhaps just checking those emails that never got looked at during the day. However, many people have found working at night leads to broken unsatisfying sleep.

Often people blame their unsettled sleep on worry about their work and problems. Yet, the reason could be caused by their own behaviour. Their sleeplessness is quite likely to be caused by their night-time screen habits. Humans are just not built to spend long hours staring at a screen, particularly in the dark.

Blue Light is the Wrong Light to be a Night Light

You may not realise it, but we see the light at different spectrums all the time. Natural light contains a mix of these different light types and the combination changes at different times of the day.  Different types of light have varying effects on the human body. Blue light is the main light around us on a warm sunny day.

Our bodies establish circadian rhythms, which are our internal time regulators. It is our circadian rhythms that tell us our preferred bed and wake-up times. They are what we colloquially call our body clock. 

Our circadian rhythms are conditioned to believe that blue light represents daylight. An absence of blue light indicates night.  It is circadian rhythms that make life so hard for shift workers trying to sleep during the day because unless they can effectively black out a room, the blue light is telling their bodies that it is time to wake up.

This presents a problem when we flood ourselves with artificial blue light at night-time. Take a look at an average computer screen in a dark room. What is the main light colour emitted from it? Blue. It is the same with our phones and tablets. They emit predominantly blue light. Is it any wonder, then that we struggle to sleep after a night in front of a screen?

Ways to Ease Our Night Light Problems

Blue-Blocking Glasses

This first solution is probably the most effective method of reducing the blue light problem (apart, obviously, from simply not looking at screens after 7 pm). 
Unfortunately, though, these amber-coloured blue-blocking glasses are never going to win any fashion awards. They do, however, effectively block out blue light, so you can still stare at your screen in the evening, without your body thinking that a new day is beginning before the old one ends. There are studies that show that wearers of these glasses can have major improvements in their sleep and mental performance.


If you cannot change the lighting of the world around you, and you do not want to shade your eyes to do it for you, then the next best option is to change the colour of the light emitted.  f.lux is software that changes your screen to more night-friendly tones.
You can easily download f.lux for free for your Windows or Mac computer (or less easily for a jailbroken iOS device, or rooted Android device). 
f.lux changes screen colours to be warmer, giving your screen a reddish hue. Your eyes adapt fairly quickly, and it will not be long before you cease to notice the change. The warmer light should reduce your eyestrain, secrete more melatonin, and make sleep easier.

 iPhone Options - Night Shift

iOS9.3 introduced Night Shift (to newer iPhone and iPads) which follows the same night shift mode on iphoneprinciple as f.lux. When you activate Night Shift, it automatically reduces the blue light emitting from you iPhone or iPad during the hours of darkness. You can opt to use Night Shift from the Display and Brightness section of the Settings.

Android Options

Android has been slower in releasing blue-light reducing software. Consumers have been clamouring for it since Apple introduced it on their iOS devices, and a similar app has clearly been going through Android development.
Although the app is not yet freely available on Android, Google has included Night Light on their Pixel phone, which operates on Android Nougat. You can simply activate it by going into Settings / Display / Night Light.
A few other brands, including Huawei and Samsung, have added a version of the app to their phones. Undoubtedly, Night Light will officially see the (blue) light of day in a future official release update of Android Nougat.
There are also some apps on Google Play that give a similar functionality. These include Bluelight Filter, which has similar functionality to the official version, but with additional options.

Why struggle to sleep after a hard evening working (or even reading, net-surfing or game-playing)? There is technology available to reduce your eyestrain and limit your blue-light consumption. It makes sense to use it and give yourself a restful night’s sleep, ready to wake up refreshed for the new days’ challenges.

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  • Mark Redshaw