Blue Light and f.lux

Hurricane Sandy brought a lot of destruction to the east coast and although I wasn’t personally affected much, I know thousands were, especially when it came to losing power. If you did, or you’ve lost power in the past, did you notice how your lifestyle changed? No longer were you watching television, in front of your computer, or iPad (at least after they ran out of battery). Instead, thousands of families were forced to find other activities to do. Reading by lantern or candlelight, playing cards, or, ..::gasp::.. talking to each other!

Something else you may have noticed is what time you went to bed. Without power, you probably became acutely aware of the fact that it got dark outside and that you became sleepy. This is not an unnatural thing. While hiking/camping, I notice that by the time we have camp setup and the sun is going down, I’m already sleepy. Sure this can have something to do with being tired from hiking, but you can probably guess that the body adjusts to daylight and sunset naturally. This is what you experience when you lose power. It’s amazing how sleepy you get around 7, 8pm when normally you wouldn’t go to bed until 10, 11, or even midnight.

The big reason, as you may have guessed, is that unnatural light messes with the body. Our circadian rhythm gets thrown off and we stay up longer than we should. This can result in fatigue, restlessness while sleeping, and yes, body fat retention. Why? Because essentially we are stressing our bodies past our normal waking hours. Light from televisions, computers, and lamps all contribute to this, particularly this thing called blue light.

Blue light from the sun is a good thing. It regulates melatonin, the stuff that makes you sleepy. During the day, melatonin is suppressed because of this blue light, but once the sun goes down, melatonin should ramp up to make us sleepy. The problem is that blue light from electronics tricks our bodies into thinking it’s still daylight, thereby stressing our bodies. 

I know what you’re thinking. There literally aren’t enough hours in the day to go to sleep when the sun goes down, especially this time of year (at least in the northeast US) when the sun sets around 6pm. I definitely understand that, which is why I’m recommending to use F.lux.

F.lux is a free program you can download to your computer which changes the light emitted from your screen to match the time of day. So during the day it is at full brightness, but at night it creates a warm and dimmer screen for you. I’ve been using it for a few years now and it’s dramatic how different it looks at night. Instead of harsh light from my laptop, it is now a soft yellowish light so I can get work done, but mitigates the blue light effects. 

As of today, the program IS available to iphones/iPads, but ONLY if they are jailbroken. If you don’t know what that means, then you probably can’t get it. (I would think it would be easy to make an Android app…hoping) I have absolutely no affiliation with F.lux, but it’s just a product that I like using since it’s adjusts the brightness and temperature of the screen automatically. Ideally we are going to sleep when the sun goes down, but for that, you might need to talk to my boss so I can work half days.

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