Goodnight eyestrain. Or, at least, that’s the hope with Google Play’s Night Light. If you’re anything like me, you use your smartphone for everything. Including reading.
I know, I know. My eyes. The thing is, I couldn’t see a damn thing before the invention of smartphones. And I rocked Harry Potter glasses before it was even cool.
Reading off a screen isn’t exactly the greatest idea, especially at night. Hey, I’m with you on the Expanse novels kicking ass. But reading it off your smartphone at 2 am with the brightness set to auto is killing your sleep patterns.
Blue Light and Sleep
The accepted theory is the blue light coming from our myriad of devices effectively suppresses the production of melatonin – the hormone associated with sleep. You and me sitting around reading off our tablet or smartphone is screwing with our body’s natural clock. Any chance of decent sleep is gone.
Yeah, I think my body’s natural clock was destroyed a long time ago. The solution? Turn off the smartphone and go to bed. A complete lifestyle change that will have you filling the sleep bank in no time. One problem. The solution is a bridge too far for most of us.
A realistic solution for our unhealthy attachment to electronics before bed? We could buy an e-ink reader like a Kindle, but Google isn’t in the business of helping Amazon. Instead, apps are rolling out features to filter the amount of blue light emitted.
Instead of that stark white, Google and others are offering modes that shift the colors to an amber hue. This color saturation increases as the night wears on. A picture is worth a thousand words when it comes to explaining the effect.
The claim is the amber hues actually increase melatonin production and will restore sleep patterns. Yeah… What if the book is amazing? Just because I’m staring at an amber tint isn’t going to make me put it down.
Easing Eyestrain and Google Night Light
Mac users will know and love the app flux (also available for Windows and Linux). It works just like the Google Play Night Light but for your desktop. Why Apple does not let the app on iOS devices is beyond me. It works great and is customizable to fit your day.
Amazon has rolled out its own blue light filter with the Blue Shade feature on its full-color Kindle Fire tablets. If you have a normal Kindle, you’re good to go.
Are these features the answer? The debate will rage about how we need to disconnect from our electronic world an hour before bed. Seeing as none of us live in that utopia, I’ll take any incremental improvements.
Sure, it’s a stopgap measure. It’s not going to solve every problem related to blue light. But, it does offer relief. If you haven’t tried it via flux or another app, the update to Google Play Books is enabled by default on Android and iOS. Try it tonight.
You’ll be amazed at the difference in the reading experience. Ultra-HD is great for watching a movie. Reading a book? Give me the amber hues every night. Our eyes will thank us, and so will our sleep patterns.