We've been wondering how effective blue light filters really are, so we did a little research of our own. Let's find out just how effective Apple Night Shift is in blocking blue light.
The negative effects of blue light on sleep have been well documented. At night, the electronic blue light from your devices switches the brain in daytime mode, which causes the body to suppress its melatonin production, the sleep-inducing hormone that helps us sleep. As a result, our biological clocks are thrown off, which can lead to unhealthy consequences.
When Apple released the Apple Night Shift iOs 9.3, its purpose was to neutralize the blue light from devices, so that users’ sleep patterns would not be thrown off, and their sleep would not be adversely affected.
However, recent research conducted by the Lighting Research Center shows the Night Shift blue light filter fell short of its expectations.
The Blue Light Nightmare: It doesn't end when you wake up. Find out why.
To activate the Apple Night Shift feature on your device, the process is pretty simple:
Sounds plausible. However, when 12 young adults were recruited for a study to test it out, the results were less than promising.
The study examined three different settings on the iPad:
Although the Night shift mode did make some difference, the results showed that all three settings suppressed the melatonin production, rather than regulating it. No wonder it was causing such a buzz!
Why such disappointing results?
It’s not the light's color spectrum that affects sleep; it’s its brightness. Although the Night Shift blue light filter was making the screen color warmer, it didn't tone down its intensity, which was precisely the cause of sleep disruption. As a result, the blue light filter was virtually useless in helping users restore their natural sleep patterns.
The Apple Night Shift blue light filter is not the only blue light filter out there with questionable results in their effectiveness in blocking blue light. You might have heard of F.lux as well. You can discover more about its effectiveness here.
Unfortunately, they don’t work as a proper filter. Their lack of efficiency is due to the fact that they can only reduce the blue light instead of filtering or blocking it.
Why do we need proper filters to protect our eyes from blue light exposure? Because ALL screens have this problem called backlight bleeding which means your monitor will still “bleed” light from the backlight and around the edges. That excess light isn’t picked up by f.lux, Night Shift or any other blue light apps as they are essentially offering a software solution to a hardware problem.
The problem is that these apps can’t eliminate but only reduce blue light exposure. Therefore, your eyes can still get strained when you use these blue light filtering apps.
Unfortunately, that’s not the only problem we’ve identified with blue light filter apps. Blue light is not only released by our smartphones and computers, but also by our TVs and all sources of artificial light.
While these apps are certainly a step in the right direction, it definitely falls short to solve the problem completely. In fact, this study indicates that “less than 1 lux of monochromatic light elicited a significant suppression of nocturnal melatonin”.
To reevaluate your lighting strategies is no longer an option but a necessity to ensure maximum health.
However, blue light blocking glasses are proven to be successful in blocking the blue light from electronic devices. At Swanwick Sleep, we're dedicated to creating the best (and best-looking) swannies blue blocking glasses out there. Don't solely rely on your device filters to protect your eyes from blue light, get yourself here.
When the lights go on, put your Swannies on!
You might also want to read this helpful article about F.lux.
Yes, gimme a pair of blue light blocking glasses!