What is Night Shift and How Do I Use It?

couple in bed
Getty Images / Sam Diephuls

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.   And that's where Apple's Night Shift feature comes into the picture.  

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 believe that limiting blue light will have no real effect on our melatonin levels and that any increased ability to go to sleep is more of a placebo effect than anything.  

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, it helps you go to sleep faster.

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.  

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 tap 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.