Is blue light killing your productivity?

Man working on his laptop.

For many entrepreneurs, burning the midnight oil is a normal part of life. Working into the wee hours of the night or morning has its allure – it is quieter and there are fewer distractions. However, for many of us, late-night work has nothing to do with peace and quiet; rather, it is the motivation to not miss a deadline or trying to avoid the anxiety of leaving something undone.

Regardless of which side of the equation you fall though, staying up late to work is not a sustainable schedule.

Unfortunately, when you finally decide to take a break from this punishing schedule and reward your body with rest, you’ll often find that your phone or computer won’t let you prosper.

Interestingly enough, there’s an app for that. 

Studies have shown that staring at a computer screen when you’re supposed to be sleeping lies to your body that it’s still daylight. This can interfere with your efforts to get a good night’s sleep.

Biologically, our bodies naturally react to light in what is called a circadian rhythm. In a natural setting with no artificial light, our bodies sense when the sun is about to set and the environment is getting darker.

Starting in the retina, a series of events induced in the hypothalamus leads the body to produce melatonin and other sleep hormones to lower your body’s temperature in readiness for some long awaited slumber.

Artificial light

When we use artificial light, especially blue light produced by fluorescent lights on our computer screens, we disrupt this natural process and confuse our bodies. This is why sometimes, tired as you may feel, you’re unable to lull yourself to sleep by scrolling through your phone or computer.

This is where blue light filters come in. These filters limit the amount of blue light produced by a screen either through hardware design or by using software.

For most of us, software filters are more accessible, as they can be used with existing devices. This week, we’ll look at a few examples on the most common platforms: Windows, Android and Apple.

On your Windows device, go to the Settings menu, and under Systems, search for Display and then navigate to the Night Light option. Toggle this on, and Windows will shift the display to show warmer colours, which reduce the emission of blue light.

You can also schedule the night light feature to come on automatically, and even tweak the colour temperature to better suit your needs.

Many Android devices come with the feature in-built. It’s usually under the Settings option, and goes by names like Night Mode, Read Mode or Blue Light Filter. If your device doesn’t have this feature built into the software, you can download apps like Blue Light Filter or Twilight.

Apple devices also come with a filter in-built into the operating system; it is called Night Shift and is under the Display and Brightness option. It is worth noting that Apple was the first to implement a warmer display option on a grand scale.

So do yourself a favour and don’t let your devices ruin your sleep, and as a result, your productivity and odds of finding success.   

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