Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Easy on the Eyes

Are you a lark or a night owl? Do you rise early, singing to high heaven - or are you at your best after the sun goes down?

I'm definitely a night owl. When other people (and by "other people", I of course mean Mr. M, a lark if ever there was one) have staggered yawning off to bed, I'm usually good for a few more hours of crocheting or blogging (or reading other people's blogs). I love to work on the computer at night, when the house is quiet and I can be alone with my thoughts.

But working on the computer at night is hard on the eyes, and can have negative effects on sleep patterns. Here's a scary fact*: the bright blue light coming from the monitor mimics daylight, and fools the body into staying awake longer by disrupting and delaying the nightly production of melatonin, a hormone crucial for sleep. (I can testify to this - since I started blogging and spending more time online at night, I've also spent more time tossing and turning in bed because my mind wouldn't shut off when the computer did. Normally I sleep like a top.)

Short of returning to an electricity-free lifestyle governed by the rise and fall of the sun, what can we do to minimize the effects of too much light - and the wrong kind of light - from our monitors?

Here's something Mr. M and I are using: a free program called "f.lux" which "makes the color of your computer's display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day." (Quote from the f.lux website.) F.lux works by gradually changing the appearance of your monitor as the evening progresses, to match the appearance of your indoor lighting. On our screen, glaring white becomes softer; warm colours become warmer (and slightly peachier); cool colours are gently muted.

Mr. M downloaded this program to our computers about a month ago, and it's been working really well. My eyes no longer get tired and sore when I use the computer at night; and when I go to bed I fall right to sleep, even if I've just spent hours online.

If you're interested, check out this website: http://stereopsis.com/flux/. The program is completely free, and available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and iPhone/iPad. There's also a very helpful FAQ page for those who want to read more about the program before downloading.

P.S. Since this program changes the appearance of screen colours at night, you might want to save your intense Photoshopping for the daylight hours, although there's an option to disable f.lux if necessary for fine colour work.

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*(Even scarier is this quote from a New York Times article on how light affects our body clocks: "Some experts believe that any kind of light too late into the evening could have broad health effects," including weight gain and cancer. Yikes! Or as Marigold the Goat would say, Oy! Time to turn off the lights and hit the hay.)

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7 comments:

  1. That's really interesting, my hubby and I are different too, I am definitely better in the mornings, although of recent I could happily lie in...but the evenings I am a disaster the number of films I've only seen half of would be hard to calculate!

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  2. Always have been more of a Lark. Used to really rise early! Had to have some time to myself, before home life began.

    Of late, I'm not quite so early to rise. But still need to go to sleep, about the same time, each night.

    I really try to live by my own internal clock, so to speak. Since I'm *olden,* and don't have a lot of deadlines to meet or places-I-have-to-be-at-a-certain-time, I have this luxury.

    Yes, I do believe we would do better, to listen to our own inner time clocks. And also, to follow the sun... Up when it rises and sleep when it sets. :-)

    That computer program sounds interesting. But I'm not on the computer, at night...

    "There is a monsterous deal of stupid quizzing, & common-place
    nonsense talked, but scarcely any wit."
    ~J.A.

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  3. I will have to check that out. I frequently go on the computer late in the evening and that sometimes turns into early in the morning. Thanks for the info.

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  4. I'm a night owl who was forced to be a lark for many a working year, while my husband was always a lark. I've always said that I would have loved to teach evening Kindergarten. Since we've retired I've been able to indulge my night owl habits and my husband has happily turned into one with me.
    That was a bit scary about the computer screens, but I don't use mine much at night.

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  5. We've been struggling with sleeplessness for several months now; this is definitely worth trying. We've tried cutting back on green tea, eating lighter meals at night, heavy cycling on weekends... maybe this little program will do the trick!!!

    PS: My iPhone already seems to have something similar; it dims in the evenings all by itself. Maybe whoever owned it before me already installed it. :)

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  6. That's fascinating Sue, thank you for this. I'm a night owl as you know, always have been, but where once I'd sit into the small hours reading a book now I'm often using the lap top. I just might give f..lux a try :D

    Lovely pics in your last post by the way, I tried to comment but Blogger wouldn't let me :(

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  7. We are F. luxers here. :) I can't allow the Goatmother to do her computing at night because, according to your post, she might gain back the weight she has lost. Then she would be crabby and I would be emitting 'Oy's' all over the place.

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