One of the biggest health improvement features that hasn’t gotten enough attention is Apple’s new Night Shift mode. I wrote about Night Shift mode a few months ago when beta testers of iOS 9.3 found the feature.
When Night Shift mode is enabled on your iPhone or iPad, it changes the wavelength of light that your eyes are exposed to — exposing you to long wavelengths of light. The long wavelengths of light are the warmer colors, such as orange and red. This keeps the short wavelengths of light away from you — these are the blue colors you’re usually exposed to on computer and phone displays. The short wavelengths of light prevent sleep and suppress melatonin, a hormone that is key for sleep.
There have been research studies that have gone as far as recommending using orange tinged glasses when using the iPad at night.
If you are having a discussion with a patient about sleep hygiene, you should definitely tell them to utilize Night Shift mode. Obviously, recommending patients stay away from phones at night is the best tip — research has shown how night time use of devices hurts sleep.
Key features of NightShift mode you should know as a physician:
1) Your patient needs to have at least iOS 9.3 installed on their phone for this to work. If they aren’t finding the feature, tell them to update the operating system on their device.
2) Patients can set up NightShift mode so that it only starts working when the sun sets, however, you should consider being more aggressive with the timings and start changing the screen color sooner. There is an option to select the amount of “warmth” — I suggest using the warmest color possible to get the longest wavelength of light.
3) This isn’t limited to just iPhones. You should recommend your patients who use their iPad in bed at night to enable this functionality as well.
4) Android devices can utilize a similar “Night Shift” mode. For Android phones, the app is called f.lux, and there are other similar ones to choose from as well.
How to turn on nightshift mode:
Go to Settings on your iPhone or iPad, and then go to the “Display & Brightness” section. You will see an option to enable nightshift mode there.