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12th Nov 2020

(Part 2)
Screen time and Lighting

Humans are incredibly influenced by light. Enough to merit a special section in my answer. Exposure to blue end of the visible spectrum triggers your body chemically to wake up (it’s daytime!) and the yellow end of the visible spectrum triggers your body to wind down (the sun is setting). You can use this phenomenon to make some important changes. The list below is roughly how. You don’t need to do all of it. Things closer to the top of the list are more important and effective than things at the bottom.

Falling asleep

  • Enable “Night Mode” on all your devices that have a screen – most modern operating systems have one. This allows the operating system to turn off the “blue” parts of the LED on your screen at night. You’ll know it’s working if your screen looks more yellow at night.
  • Avoid looking at bright LED screens for an hour or so before you go to bed.
  • Keep your room dark. Use blackout curtains. No, your gaming PC does not belong in the bedroom.
  • If you really have to look at a screen, I recommend wearing blue light blocker glasses. They are cheap and extremely effective. I use these because they make me look hella stylish. I also have a reminder go off on my Alexa at 6:30 pm to wear them by default. That way, if I am out for a walk and encounter a blaring neon LED sign, my head doesn’t explode.
  • If you can afford smart lighting, turn all your lighting to be yellow in the evenings. If you have Philips Hue lights, you can also setup your lights to gradually dim as the evening fades into night signalling your body to slow down as well.

Waking up

  • Open your curtains as soon as you wake up. If you sleep in a room where you can’t do it without waking up other people (or pets), then take a peek out any way you can – take a 30 second walk out the door if you have to. This is a powerful stimulant for your body.
  • Once again, if you can afford smart lighting, turn all your lighting to be bright white in the mornings. This includes the necessary blue components of the light spectrum.
  • Use an alarm that simulates sunrise (e.g: this). By introducing light slowly, your body naturally gradually wakes out of REM cycles instead of being startled by a conventional alarm. Note that this will not work if you share the bed with someone who doesn’t have the same sleep cycle as you.
  • If your circumstances permit it, use a blue light for 30 minutes. (maybe during meditation practice).

A final note on sleep trackers: All sleep trackers are approximate and have error rates.
I’ve used different trackers simultaneously that recorded different data for the same night. Read into the data with a grain of salt. It’s more important to notice patterns in sleep (“I slept less on average in the last three days than usual”) than specific numbers (“I slept 7 hours and 3 minutes today”). Any error in sleep measurement that is intrinsic to the device is maintained every night. So trends are less error prone than specific data.
I’ve used the Oura ring to track my sleep patterns. It is decent. Knowing how I slept helps me understand how I should set expectations for the day. I used to have a fitbit. I disconnected it when the big G bought fitbit.

Happy Zzzzs.