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A new study looking at the effects of low-light functions on smartphone users' sleeping habits suggests that features like Apple's Night Shift mode don't actually improve sleep at all.

night-shift.jpg

Introduced in iOS 9, Night Shift is designed to cut down on the amount of blue light that an iOS device puts out during the evening hours. The feature uses the clock and geolocation of an iPhone or iPad to determine when it's sunset, and automatically shifts the colors of the display to warmer colors, returning the display to its regular settings in the morning.

Now found on most smartphones in some form, Night Shift is based on studies that have demonstrated that blue light can negatively impact sleep by altering the body's circadian rhythm. However, the results of a new study from BYU published in Sleep Health have undermined that premise.

To test the theory, BYU psychology professor Chad Jensen and researchers from the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center compared the sleep outcomes of individuals in three categories: those who used their phone at night with the Night Shift function turned on, those who used their phone at night without Night Shift, and those who did not use a smartphone before bed at all.
"In the whole sample, there were no differences across the three groups," Jensen said. "Night Shift is not superior to using your phone without Night Shift or even using no phone at all."
The study included 167 adults between the ages of 18 to 24 who said they use a smartphone daily. The participants were asked to spend at least eight hours in bed, during which they wore an accelerometer on their wrist to record their sleep activity.

Individuals who were assigned to use their smartphone also had an app installed to monitor their phone use. The app measured sleep outcomes that included total sleep duration, sleep quality, wake after sleep onset and the time it took to fall asleep.

In the second part of the study, the researchers split the sample in two groups – one consisting of participants who averaged about seven hours of sleep, and another that included those who slept less than six hours each night.

nightshift.jpg

The group that got seven hours of sleep saw a slight difference in sleep quality based on phone usage, while those who didn't use a phone before bed experienced better sleep quality compared to both those with normal phone use and those using Night Shift. Within the six-hour group, which had the least amount of sleep, there were no differences in sleep outcomes based on whether the participants used Night Shift or not.

The results suggest that blue light is only one factor that creates difficulty falling or staying asleep, and it's important not to discount the affect of physical interactions like texting, scrolling and posting on sleep outcomes.
"While there is a lot of evidence suggesting that blue light increases alertness and makes it more difficult to fall asleep, it is important to think about what portion of that stimulation is light emission versus other cognitive and psychological stimulations," said Jensen.
Since its debut on iOS, Night Shift has been included in macOS since Sierra. Mac users can enable or disable the feature using the Night Shift tab in System Preferences -> Display.

(Via BYU Communications.)

Article Link: BYU Study Suggests Night Shift Mode Doesn't Help iPhone Users Sleep
 

Starship77

macrumors regular
Aug 30, 2006
200
91
That kinda makes sense. I never noticed any difference in sleep quality. I still use and will continue to use Night Shift, tho. It’s much more comfortable on the eyes in a darker environment.
I wish you could set it to turn on whenever is dark for a certain period of time (enough for the eyes to adapt)
 
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Seanm87

macrumors 68000
Oct 10, 2014
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2,866
That kinda makes sense. I never noticed any difference in sleep quality. I still use and will continue to use Night Shift, tho. It’s much more comfortable on the eyes in a darker environment.
I wish you could set it to turn on whenever is dark for a certain period of time (enough for the eyes to adapt)

True Tone pretty much does this already
 
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jimthing

macrumors 68000
Apr 6, 2011
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TBH, I wish we could turn down the brightness even further, for when using in the dark in bed. I still find the lowest setting too bright.

i guess this is another reason for people to use Kindles to read on. A market Apple doesn't do, or want to do, presumably thinking it'd undermine their iPad market.
They don't even update the book-sized iPad Mini properly with regular or worthwhile updates.
 
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Crispy Duck

macrumors regular
Nov 14, 2006
171
57
Manchester, UK
TBH, I wish we could turn down the brightness even further, for when using in the dark in bed. I still find the lowest setting too bright.

i guess this is another reason for people to use Kindles to read on. A market Apple doesn't do, or want to do, presumably thinking it'd undermine their iPad market.
They don't even update the book-sized iPad Mini properly with regular or worthwhile updates.
There is a way to make it even dimmer. If you use Reduce White Point in Acessibility settings. You can tie it to triple click or back tap as well to make it easy to toggle.
 
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Tozovac

macrumors 68020
Jun 12, 2014
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Makes sense. I personally found the yellowish/dimmer screen to require more of my concentration and energy since it wasn’t the pleasant “normal” hue I‘m used to and prefer, perhaps resulting in waking me up more than relaxing me.

Hopefully next is the study showing how much flat design and the reinvented minimalist interfaces from iOS7/Yosemite onward were actually not discernible improvements and were even steps backwards in some cases.
 
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I7guy

macrumors Penryn
Nov 30, 2013
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Gotta be in it to win it
Makes sense. I personally found the yellowish/dimmer screen to require more of my concentration and energy since it wasn’t the pleasant “normal” hue I‘m used to and prefer, perhaps resulting in waking me up more than relaxing me.
I’m the opposite. I live warm tones at night.
Hopefully next is the study showing how much flat design and the reinvented minimalist interfaces from iOS7/Yosemite onward were actually not discernible improvements and were even steps backwards in some cases.
Or, the next study could show how how the iOS 7 flat design was pure genius and the best thing since sliced bread.
 
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xObeyThePanda

macrumors newbie
Jul 28, 2013
20
16
Let me clarify this macrumors article and experiment.

The premise that blue light = bad sleep may not be correct as the author state themselves:

“Contrary to our original hypotheses, we did not detect differences in sleep outcomes across the three experimental groups. Our three study groups demonstrated comparable means for total sleep time, time taken to fall asleep, amount of time spent awake after falling asleep, and sleep efficiency regardless of their group assignment.

But for participants who already had history of better sleep than average, they did see a significant difference between the phone and no phone group:

“Interestingly, those who fell above the population median for average sleep duration across the experimental week did demonstrate differences in sleep outcomes across experimental groups, with those in the no-phone condition having significantly greater sleep quality (ie, more efficient sleep and less time spent awake during sleeping hours) than those using their phone in the Night Shift condition.”

But there was no difference between the night shift and no night shift.
 
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Hexley

macrumors 65816
Jun 10, 2009
1,487
361
This applies to most people and not all people.

If you want better quality of sleep then turn off your devices that emit sound, light and vibrations an hour or two before sleeping.

Be in a room that has no outside light entering the windows or doors. The room should be whisper quiet at a temperature that is comfortable to sleep in

You should also be ideally physically active throughout the day.

Avoid any sort of stimulants after 12 noon.

If you wake before sunrise go back to sleep unless you need be up that early.

Sleep before midnight ideally around 8.

Sleep for 8 hours or longer.

Eat clean... predomiantly whole food plant-based diet.
 
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Smooch

macrumors newbie
Oct 14, 2014
24
66
I personally don't get why the brightness setting and/or night shade do not combine with reduced white point. The lowest brightness setting is still too bright for me at night, even with night shade... The sort of hidden setting for this under Accessibility is honestly a pleasure.
 
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andrefillipe

macrumors member
Mar 1, 2021
40
118
Well, when you have a PWM Oled screen flashing high brightness right into your eyes who cares for night shift
 
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Apple Knowledge Navigator

macrumors 68020
Mar 28, 2010
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I imagine that because orange-yellow light is easier on the eyes, there’s a perception that this is going to improve sleep because of how comfortable it feels.

I would use Night Shift regardless, but perhaps Apple should reword the description in settings.
 
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Mac Fly (film)

macrumors 68000
Feb 12, 2006
1,639
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Ireland
I like night shift at night. What helps a bit with sleep is deleting all social apps such as IG, Twitter, Facebook, Snap etc. Frankly all of these apps should come with a health warning.
 
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ChrisMoBro

macrumors 6502a
Oct 31, 2016
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The title is a little misleading. Blue light does affect the body's production of the hormone melatonin but if you're going to be in bed using your phone then that will be counterproductive. If you have to reply to a message, the yellow/orange screen will at least help to a certain degree but it is better just to switch off all devices.
 
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