f.lux: Live Better Through Proper Screen Lighting

One of the challenges working with screens is that it really messes with our sleep cycles. The bright, blue light, which is much brighter/bluer than natural sunlight, tricks our brains into thinking that it’s later than it really is.

End result: you sleep later and the quality of your sleep deteriorates.

It’s a well researched phenomenon of our current screen-heavy lifestyles. From the f.lux research page:

The science that explains why blue light keeps you up was begun many years ago in the study of bird migration, and it continued in humans with the discovery of a new photoreceptor in the eye, called Melanopsin. Many are familiar with the “rods and cones” that provide our visual capabilities, but it was only about 15 years ago that retinal ganglion cells containing melanopsin, which are sensitive to a narrow band of blue light in the 460-480nm range, were discovered, and their unique effect on sleep was investigated.


The experimental research suggests that an average person reading on a tablet for a couple hours before bed may find that their sleep is delayed by about an hour. Clearly, the details are complicated, but that’s why we get to cite so many very interesting papers.

There are a few ways you can help mitigate this. The first is to set a time when you stop using your devices to let your eyes and brain readjust to a more natural state. This includes the usage of mobile devices (stop using it in bed!), laptops, tablets, and televisions. The second, while not a perfect solution, is to adjust the temperature of your display to closely mirror the state of the sun outside.

We love f.lux

I’ve been using f.lux for years now with great effect.

f.lux, a free program, is available for Windows, OSX, and mobile devices. It adjusts the temperature of your display to mimic the temperature of light outside. As the sun sets, your body clock naturally wants to start winding down. However, with blueish white light from our screens, we are short circuiting that process. So, f.lux adjusts your display to become more yellow/orange/red in order to relax things.

Get f.lux for free here. Your eyes (and your sleep) will thank you for it.

More reading

Reading On A Screen Before Bed Might Be Killing You (Huffington Post)
Blue light from electronics disturbs sleep, especially for teenagers (Washington Post)

The open office trend — productivity boon or bust?

The startup and tech space is replete with open offices — areas where there is little to no privacy for employees. The open office floor plan, pioneered by tech giants like Google, and used by everyone from Facebook to LinkedIn, is almost seen as a must-have to foster ideals like “creativity”, “collaboration”, and “openness.”

While this all sounds great, there is a very real cost to open offices, and things may finally be swinging back in the other direction.

With more information coming out about interruption science (a field of study within psychology), distractions and interruptions are now measurably significant productivity inhibitors.

Coupled with a mutual feeling of distrust, since seemingly anyone can be looking over your shoulder at any time, many people are starting to voice their displeasure with open offices.

An essay in the Washington Post discussed this topic last month (“Google got it wrong. The open office trend is destroying the workplace.“)

I’ll be expanding on the topics of interruption science, productivity, and workplace design in the coming weeks. This topic comes and goes every few months, but with the growth of tech companies into some of the largest companies on the planet, it’s becoming a topic that requires a more concrete discussion sooner rather than later.