What is Night Shift For iPhone And iPad?

Reduce blue light to get a better night's sleep

couple in bed
Getty Images / Sam Diephuls

Apple's Night Shift feature for the iPhone and iPad is a great way to control the blue light emitted from your device's screen. When used consistently, some experts believe it can help you get to sleep more quickly and even potentially improve some aspects of your health.

What Is Night Shift?

On average, people who use electronic devices such as tablets or laptops right before bedtime take about ten more minutes to fall asleep and report feeling less sleepy during this time. That's where Apple's Night Shift feature comes into the picture. It uses your computer's clock and geolocation information to determine when it's sunset in your location. 

Researchers believe exposure to blue light emitted from the device's screen limits the amount of melatonin produced by the body. Melatonin is the hormone that tells your body it is time to sleep. In theory, shifting the colors to a 'warmer' side of the spectrum should allow your body to produce more melatonin, which in turn would allow you to go to sleep faster after reading or playing on your iPad.  

However, it is important to note that there is no actual study on how limiting blue light from tablets and laptops will actually affect our sleep. Some experts believe that limiting blue light has no real effect on our melatonin levels and that any increased ability to go to sleep is more of a placebo effect than anything.  

Should You Try Night Shift?

So should you try out Night Shift? If you like to use your iPad before going to sleep, it wouldn't hurt to try it out. Even if it is a placebo effect, if it helps you go to sleep faster, that's all the science you need to know.

In order to use Night Shift you will need an iPad Air or newer tablet. This includes all "Minis" after and including the iPad Mini 2, the iPad Air 2 and the new iPad Pros. It is also available on iPhones running iOS 9.3 or later and on the Mac with devices running 10.12.4 or later. 

How to Use Night Shift

Night Shift is found in the iPad's settings under Display & Brightness in the left-side menu. You can turn it on by tapping the Scheduled button and then tapping the From/To line to customize the schedule.  

For most people, it may be easiest to simply tap the Sunset to Sunrise option. This uses the time and your location to determine sunset and sunrise and automatically tune the feature.   But if you know you aren't going to sleep before 10 PM, the feature will do just as much good with a specific time scheduled.

You should also tap the Manually Enable Until Tomorrow button. This will let you see what the screen will look like when Night Shift is turned on.

You can use the color temperature slider to adjust the display towards the warmer or less warm side of the spectrum. In this instance, 'less warm' means more blue light, so you might want to stick with the warmer side of the spectrum.