Why Night Shift is the Greatest Thing to Happen to iOS Since iOS
We’ve all had trouble falling asleep. Did you know that your favorite electronic devices could be harming your sleep quality? The problem is blue light and the havoc it wreaks on our circadian rhythm.
What is a Circadian Rhythm?
Plain and simple, a human’s circadian rhythm is their 24-hour sleep/wake cycle.
What Affects Our Circadian Rhythm?
Many factors have effects on a person’s circadiam rhythm. The biggest factor in determining rhythm is exposure to blue light. Blue light is the key that winds our circadian clock. The entrance of blue light into our eyes causes the creation of photic (light) signals. These signals then travel along the optic nerve to the brain’s Suprachiasmatic Nucleus. When the SCN receives these signals, it in turn sends signals to other parts of the brain. The three main things these signals call for are:
- An increase in body temperature
- The production of cortisol
- Suppression of the release of melatonin
Cortisol and Melatonin are Key
Cortisol aides in waking us up and melatonin aides in putting us to sleep. When we look at the screens of our devices, we are seeing millions of little blue lights. Not only do we see blue light from the individual pixels, but from the screen’s backlight as well. Remember what promotes the production of cortisol and suppresses melatonin release? That’s right, blue light. By looking at our screens all day, we give ourselves über doses of cortisol. Not only that, but we are also suppressing melatonin which, makes it harder for us to sleep. This equates to inferior sleep quality or a lack of sleep.
Is it Really That Important?
Our bodies do the majority of repair and cleanup work while we sleep. If we do not get proper sleep, our bodies can not perform these functions out as intended. If this happens over a long period of time, the results can be sickness and disease. Though even if you are not sick, you still may feel tired day in and day out, experience brain fog, have bad moods, etc.
Hats off to Apple for finally including this feature in iOS. By allowing us to filter blue light from the screens of our iDevices, Apple has made a stand for our sleep, and in turn our health as a whole. Hopefully other electronics manufacturers will follow suit. As an Apple developer and avid biohacker I can’t begin to express how excited I am by this announcement.
If you’d like some in-depth explanation on circadian rhythms, here are a few good reads to get you started:
When we have been awake for a long period of time, sleep/wake homeostasis tells us that a need for sleep is…sleepfoundation.org
If you enjoyed this post and would like a more detailed explanation of circadian rhythms, let me know on Twitter! You can find me here: Wesley Bevins.