Saturday, January 25, 2014

Night owl? Here's a nifty computer tool

F.lux logo
If you're like me, sometimes you find yourself up late working on the computer. I can be really productive when it's really late. "Early to bed, early to rise" isn't often part of my daily routine.

Studies show that people can have issues falling asleep at night, due in part to mental stimulation from the phone or computer. We just don't know when to turn it off. Then some of us toss, and turn, and have a hard time "shutting down" mentally for the night.

I didn't consider myeslf having a problem falling asleep at night, especially if I'm up until the wee small hours of the night (or morning) writing. I'd write until bleary-eyed, then slither into bed. But I discovered a computer tool, a software that helps with my computer eyestrain at night. If it gives me no other benefit than that, it's worth it.

I found F.lux.

Here's the brief scoop:

Sleep researchers don't just blame people's sleep issues on mental stimulation via television, computers and phones. It's also that "blue light" spectrum in the color field that mimics daylight. According to these sleep experts, being exposed after daylight hours to this blue light from our screens messes with our body's production of melatonin as well as our Circadian rhythm. Which makes us have a hard time falling asleep, or having a good quality sleep.

Even if you're not a night owl, chances are you might be working on your computer after dark, What F.lux does is gradually removes the blue light from your computer's display based on the time of day where you are. Okay, some might say, "Just don't use your computer or tablet at night." For writers, sometimes that's not an option for us.

So I installed F.lux on my laptop.

The first night, I noticed the slight "pinker" tone to my display. It's a warm light and it mimics the soft light of lamps in my home. I can't say I noticed a better night's sleep the first night, or the second. However, I did notice my eyes are less tired, only three nights after trying F.lux.

You can even adjust the level of brightness as you see fit. Or, if you're working on something where seeing true colors is necessary, you can disable the filter.

Here are some reviews of F.lux at CNET. CNET is what I consider one of the more reputable sites that evaluates computer software: F.lux reviews at CNET

Currently it's available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and iPad/iPhone. Not available for Android yet, or I'd have installed the app on my phone by now.

Have you heard of F.lux? Have you tried it? So far, I'm pleased. Especially since I don't have a sunrise to sunset kind of work day.

7 comments:

  1. Intriguing. Thanks for sharing this Lynette! I also tend to be most productive into the wee hours. Although then I find I sleep really well. It's when I try to go to bed at 10 that I don't! :) But I do dim down my screen to be easier on the eyes, so I'm interested in trying this option.

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    1. You're welcome! One of the things is it doesn't dim the screen and make it 'darker,' it just changes the shade. Right now, my screen is in the daytime mode, but as I work it will gradually change the 'shade' of the screen color, removing a lot of the blue from the color spectrum.

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  2. Interesting. I stop writing at 8, and only get once more after that for a final email check. But I'm going to download it and have it installed to try if I'm ever on deadline and need it.

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    1. It's a good practice, to shut down early. I know that's what people recommend, but as you know when the muse hits or deadline screams, that's when the midnight oil comes out. :)

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  3. Great suggestion. I'm off to check it out now! :) Thanks for sharing.

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    1. You're welcome! I had to get used to it at first, but now when I switch to the 'regular' lighting in the evening, it's very harsh and glaring to me.

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  4. I've had a really hard time with eye strain. So I'm excited to try this idea. Thanks, Lynette.

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