Healthy living for home office workers

Software Review: f.lux

Have you ever had trouble getting to sleep or getting quality sleep? Have you ever used your computer late at night, just before going to bed? Do you have issues staring at your unnecessarily bright monitor for long periods? If you’re a human reading this blog, then you probably answered “yes” to at least one of these without having to think about it.

 

Enter f.lux:

 

Here’s where f.lux comes in. It’s a simple piece of software that can address a problem many people have (whether they know it or not) – excessive blue light. The sun emits plenty of blue light, and our bodies actually depend on it for our natural circadian rhythm (our body’s natural awareness of the cycle of day and night). The problem comes in when we expose ourselves to all sorts of blue light AFTER the sun goes down.

 

sunset
Turn your monitor into a beautiful sunset.

 

So what happens? Our body’s clock gets thrown off, it stops know what’s day and what’s night, and doesn’t properly prepare for sleep. That means bad quality sleep or possibly not being able to sleep at all. For the nitty gritty science, check out their research page.

 

The solution: f.lux. This piece of software is completely free, easy to use, and does some pretty heavy lifting for your health. Instead of just dimming your display, f.lux actually adapts your display’s color to the time of day. Mid-day you’ll see the full unaltered colors your screen is capable of, and at night, you’ll have the warm tons of sunset or fire-light.

 

beige-nature
This could be your monitor right now. Do it do it do it.

 

It’s a lot like if you had a warm toned plastic wrap that automatically draped over your monitor every night. It can be a little jarring at first, because the differences are obvious, but I’ve found that I get used to it within seconds, and that going back to full color late at night is very harsh on my eyes.

 

Here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons to f.lux as I see them:

 

Pros:

  • Free
  • Easy no hassle setup
  • Less harsh on your eyes
  • Fall asleep faster
  • Sleep better

Cons:

  • Not available for all devices
  • Alters colors on your screen (very important for designers)
  • False sense of security (leading to overuse)

 

The Negatives:

 

I haven’t talked about the cons much up until now, but there they are. I just can’t get f.lux or anything similar on an iOS device. It’s an iOS problem, but it’s frustrating for me, since I have to deal with those harsh blue lights on my phone.

 

For anyone who does design (graphic, web, etc.), you need to be aware that f.lux is altering the colors as you see them. I do NOT recommend using it while doing any heavy design work. Luckily, in addition to its automatic color adjustments, you can always just right click the icon in the bottom right of your screen and turn it off (for the next hour, until the next sunrise, etc.), so if you have to do late-night design work, it’s easy to turn off, but you do have to remember. At a minimum, always make sure to check your work with f.lux off after you’re done.

 

Finally, yes, f.lux can give you a false sense of security. At the end of the day, you need to make sure you’re spending enough time OFF the computer altogether. Just because f.lux can help you sleep better and reduce the strain of your computer, it doesn’t mean you should spend all your time on it.

 

Verdict:

Just get f.lux. What do you have to lose? It’s completely free and could be a big increase to your sleep quality (which very directly increases life quality). As long as you keep an eye on the negatives mentioned above, I think this is a great piece of software that belongs on your computer. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Hi, I'm Nick. I'm the man behind the scenes at Remotely Healthy. I'm a nerd on a mission to improve my health.
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