The Night Shift feature in iOS 9.3 lets you adjust the color temperature of the display, shifting away from blue spectrums of light, in the putative interest of improving sleep. But Apple makes no promises. On its website, Apple notes, “Many studies have shown that exposure to bright blue light in the evening can affect your circadian rhythms and make it harder to fall asleep.” In iOS, the feature is explained with “This may help you get a better night’s sleep.”
In fact, this feature likely will have little or no effect on most people. Apple hasn’t misrepresented any of the science, but clinical work done to date doesn’t point a finger right at mobile devices or even larger displays. Night Shift also can’t remove enough blue to make a difference if that color is the culprit. And blue light may not be the trigger it’s been identified as. While researchers haven’t tested the new feature yet, several factors add up to at best a placebo effect and a reminder to power yourself down.
Thanks, Glenn, we can always count on you digging deep into this sort of thing. This has always seemed a bit suspicious, and I think it’s a shame that Apple latched onto an unproved hypothesis to add this feature to iOS.
It reminds me of Tim Cook’s unfortunate comment that “Sitting is the new cancer,” a bit more than a year ago, when introducing the Apple Watch. Not only is it illogical – comparing a physical activity with a disease makes no sense – but it isn’t that simple. Studies are showing that standing desks may not be any healthier than sitting, and the key is probably movement.
Glenn, if you read this, maybe you could weigh in on the standing desk question. I know you use one (as I do, part of the day; I have an electric sit/stand desk).