Your Phone's Night Mode May Be Doing More Harm Than Good

A study has found that the night mode of your smartphone, adding a yellow tint to your display, may not be good for your sleep cycle.

Prapti Sarkar
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Night mode is a constant on almost every smartphone today. It is supposed to protect your eyes from the harmful blue light emitted by screens. Smartphones ask you to enable the night mode, which adds a yellow tint to your display so that you can sleep better. However, new research suggests that this is completely false. Your phone’s night mode may actually be doing more harm than good.


Using dim, cooler, lights in the evening and bright warmer lights in the day may be more beneficial to our health, a new study finds.

How Is Night Mode Harmful?

A new study conducted by the University of Manchester suggests that night mode isn’t all that helpful. They say that contrary to popular belief, blue light does not disrupt sleep patterns as we think. “Using dim, cooler, lights in the evening and bright warmer lights in the day may be more beneficial to our health,” says the research.

The researchers carried out their experiments on mice. They used specially designed lights that allowed them to change the color without altering the brightness. The long-wavelength blues suppressed circadian light responses, having a weaker effect on the mice's circadian clocks compared to equivalent shorter-wavelength yellows.

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The idea of restricting blue light to improve sleep caught the attention of researches about 20 years ago. It happened with the discovery of the role that melanopsin, a light-sensitive protein found in the eye, plays in regulating the body clock.  The melanopsin is said to be better at detecting short-wavelength photons.


Blue And Yellow

An important conclusion that the researchers drew is relatively simple to understand. The cool, blue light mimics the composition of twilight, which our circadian system thinks of as night. However, switching to a warm, yellow light may make our system think that it is day time.

Dr. Tim Brown, the author of the study said that the common view that blue light has the strongest effect on the body's clock is misguided. “In fact, the blue colors that are associated with twilight have a weaker effect than the white or yellow light of equivalent brightness.”

What’s Next?

Although the research was done on mice, the researchers believe there is adequate reason to believe that the same result would apply for humans. However, until more evidence presents itself, this remains an assumption and the night mode is likely to stay for now. But if the findings of this study gain more weightage, then there is a chance that smartphone companies might have to alter the light settings for their devices.

Also Read: Digital Detoxes, A Necessity For Mental Health Or Just Hype? 

But what can we do untill we have much clearer and concrete proof that night mode isn't all that good for us? It is unclear whether we should continue using it or not. However, using screens at night, night mode or not, is never good for your sleep quality. Instead of night mode, switch to off mode and give yourself a digital detox for at least two hours before bed. Indulge in reading, light yoga, or even television instead and your body will thank you.

Feature Image Credit: Indian Express

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