“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” –Carl Jung
During the daytime, light is plentiful and abundant, and the majority of our waking lives are optimized for that. But more and more of us are active late into the dark hours, when — as Owen Pallett (formerly Final Fantasy) would tell us — the last of
Unfortunately for us, our bodies are accustomed to certain types of light during the day, and expect a different type of night at light.
Because there’s a strong relationship between the types of light we see and the temperature of the body that emits light, our eyes perceive bluer lights as correlated with daytime (under normal circumstances) and predominantly redder lights as suitable for times closer to dawn/dusk, or even during the night.
That’s why blue, night-vision-ruining headlights are so obnoxious on the road; they’ve got the wrong color spectrum for a night environment.
That’s also something that many household lights struggle with: their spectra make it difficult for your body to adjust, particularly at night. Whereas the old incandescent bulbs often ran at a low, night-suitable temperature, many of the fluorescents more common today emit bluer light, and contribute to people’s ubiquitous difficulties in getting to sleep.
Astronomers and backpackers have figured this out; if we don’t want to ruin our night vision or mess up our body’s night/day internal clock, we would do well to change the color/temperature of the light we use after dark. That’s why many experienced backpackers and amateur astronomers use exclusively red lights after the Sun has gone down.
But what about our computer screens? Unsurprisingly, the colors our computer monitors emit — and this includes phones, tablets, laptops and desktops — are by default optimized for daytime use. But like most of us, I use my computer just as much after dark as I do during the day. Furthermore, too much staring-at-the-screen sometimes gives me headaches, and with NaNoWriMo coming up, it looks like I’m in store for even more.
Luckily, I’ve just discovered what promises to be a well-needed source of relief.
Have a look at Stereopsis.com’s new program, f.lux, which automatically adjusts your computer/screen’s color display dependent on your time and location.
For an example as to how this affects me, here’s a shot of what I use as my daytime settings.
Now, compare that with what I’ll see at night, based on my custom settings.
The difference is plain for all to see, but since I’ve started using this earlier this week, I’ve been able to get to sleep more easily even when I’m on the computer late at night, it drastically reduces my eyestrain, and best of all it doesn’t cut down on readability or usability at all! I highly recommend getting it to anyone who doesn’t know about this, and wish everyone not just a glorious weekend, but quality days and nights in all the days to come!