iOS 9.3 might not look like much of an upgrade, but there’s one feature you should definitely be excited about. It’s called Night Shift, and it makes using your iPhone or iPad before bed more comfortable, more enjoyable and healthier by banishing blue light.
Here’s why you should use it once iOS 9.3 becomes available.
Almost all gadgets with a display give off blue light, and while it’s perfectly healthy to absorb as much as you like during the day, it’s not something you want to take in at night. Using phones and tablets close to bedtime can make falling and staying asleep more difficult.
That’s because blue light tricks our circadian rhythm, or natural body clock, into thinking that it’s daytime. It also boosts attention and reaction times, and interferes with our bodies’ production of melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep, making it difficult to nod off.
It’s not just your sleep that suffers, either; multiple studies have linked exposure to blue light and disrupted circadian rhythms to heart disease, diabetes, obesity and even cancer. Harvard researchers were able to increase blood sugar levels and lower the level of leptin, a hormone that causes people to feel full after a meal, in 10 people simply by changing their circadian rhythms.
I installed the iOS 9.3 beta as soon as it became available January 11 and enabled Night Shift right away (it’s disabled by default). I also set up the scheduling option, which automatically turns Night Shift on at sunset and disables it at sunrise. The difference is amazing.
It’s obvious when Night Shift mode is active; your whole display gets an orangey hue, like the color temperature has been turned right up. But it doesn’t make it any more difficult to see what’s on screen — it just makes it more comfortable to look at in dimly lit environments.
If you like reading in bed, or playing games until you’re ready to sleep, Night Shift is a must. Not only does it eliminate that feeling of a burning cornea, but it also prevents your iPhone or iPad from lighting up the whole room, which bedmates will appreciate.
It’s hard to tell whether Night Shift mode has improved my sleep, though. I’ve always been a pretty good sleeper when the kids let me. Some mornings I feel like I’ve slept better, so maybe it’s helping — but I suspect that this is just psychological.
Either way, you should upgrade to iOS 9.3 as soon as Apple makes it available to all, and set up Night Shift scheduling. It takes about 10 seconds, and it’s well worth it if you use your iOS device at night. Your eyes will certainly appreciate it.