The story of how a software is changing my sleep wake cycle

When I was in school, I used to go to sleep early and get up reasonably early. This changed when I went to college. I developed the habit of staying up all night. I skipped lectures because I couldn’t get up early enough to attend them.

The screwed up sleep cycle which I developed in college has stayed with me ever since. In fact, it has gotten worse. Earlier, my sleep cycle was predictably screwed, which meant that I would get up around 1-o-clock in the afternoon and go to sleep around 5-o-clock in the morning. These days, my sleep cycle is unpredictably screwed. I don’t know when I would go to sleep and when I would wake up. Some days, I behave like a normal human. Some days, I am a night owl.

And it’s totally out of my control.

Photo courtesy

One day, out of curiosity, I searched for “sleep cycle” on YouTube to figure our what the hell was going on. I was presented with some interesting videos. A guy in one such video suggested something curious. He said that we have a blue light detector in our eyes which controls our body clock. In the morning, when there’s sunlight and an abundance of blue light, it keeps the body awake. When the sun goes down, and there’s an absence of blue light, it prepares the body to sleep.

How blue light controls our sleep-wake cycle by controlling Serotonin and Melatonin production.

Of course, this is no longer true in the 21st century. We have our blue light machines a.k.a computers and mobile phones which flood our lives with blue light well after sunset. I am programmer, so I have it even worse. Most of my evenings, I spend the entire time looking at my computer.

Spectrum of common devices show blue light peaks (Photo courtesy

The guy in the video suggested that we should turn off all lights after the sun sets. If we need to get some work done, he recommended candles (yes, you heard that right). He also recommended that we stay away from computers and mobile phones after sunset.

An enlightened soul wrote in the comment section (I am paraphrasing):

“The guy in the video means well. But the advice is not practical. We cannot simply ditch our computers in the evening. A better advice would be to install a software like Redshift, which filters out the blue light coming out of the computer screen gradually after the sun sets.”

This seemed interesting to me. So I downloaded and installed Redshift on my computer. My screen turned a pale orange immediately (it was around 5 PM) and gradually turned more and more orange into the night. Initially, I was skeptical. I wasn’t sure whether I would be comfortable working like that.

The computer screen without (left) and with Redshift (right)

Oddly enough, I went to sleep early that day!

It’s been almost a week since then, and I have gone to sleep early (around 10 or 11 PM) and woken up early (around 6 -7 AM) consistently the last few days. I feel awake and energized in the morning and tired and relaxed in the evening. Just like a normal human being.

What is this magic?

It can well be that redshift restored my sleep cycle back to normal. Of course, I can’t say without more data, but I have a really good feeling about this!

Today I was thinking about my college days and wondering what could have screwed my sleep cycle in college. That is when it dawned on me. I got my first computer (an Acer laptop) in college! When I was in school, I didn’t have one. Not even a desktop in the house.

Could it be that the laptop caused my screwed up sleep cycle? Could it be that the laptop made me stare at blue light all evening, which made my body think that it’s still morning? I would never know for sure, but at this point, I am inclined to believe that it could very well have been.

Some more days on Redshift, and I think I would know for sure! A big shout out to Jon Lund Steffensen for building this potentially life changing software.

If you have trouble with your sleep wake cycle, give this software a try. If Redshift doesn’t work on your device, here are some alternatives that I know about.

Thanks for reading so far. If you were ever in a situation like me, and found a way to fix your sleeping habits, please let me know in the comments.

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