Night Mode: should you use it?

Night Mode for electronic devices in the dark

Night mode (or dark mode) for our electronic devices is a rising trend. Many apps, websites and browsers offer this option (such as Facebook Dark mode, Chrome Night Mode Pro extension, YouTube and so on).

Reading in the Dark

It is a sad fact and this is symptomatic of our times: we consult more and more screens at night, in the dark,  and this is hurting our eyes and sleep patterns.

If you sit in the dark with an open laptop or staring at your smartphone, you are probably aware of the headaches and eye strain that this habit very often causes. The goal of dark mode is mainly to rest the eyes of users, especially in the dark or in a poorly lit room.

A way to achieve that is to limit the amount of blue light emitted by the screen. As a matter of fact, prolonged exposure to blue light radiation causes damage to the retina and lens. It causes oxidative stress to the retina and other eye tissues. It can also contribute to disrupting sleep cycles. Blue light radiating from your screen artificially keeps you brain in daytime mode. It interferes with melatonin production, the “sleep hormone”, disturbing our biological clock.

Night Mode: Pros and Cons

Eyes and sleep

Activating night mode is supposed to reduce some of the blue light and light intensity, therefore contributing to better sleep and less eye damage. However there is some controversy about the actual efficacy and the real benefits  The main advantage of night mode would be that it decreases your screen brightness in the dark, making it less aggressive on your eyes.

But there is also a down side: night mode screens can actually make it more difficult to read, and contribute to eyestrain. Because there is less light coming from your screen, your pupils will have to dilate more and your eyes will have to work harder in order to focus.

Energy savings

A very bright screen consumes much more energy that a screen in dark mode. Therefore the battery will last longer if the night mode is activated.

How to turn on night mode

You can access this option via the settings on your device. For example, on an iPhone: Go to Settings > Display/Brightness > Night Shift. From there you can adjust color temperature and even schedule a time for night shift to turn on automatically.

Other Options

Again, activating night mode could reduce some of the blue light and brightness. You might consider it when using your device in the dark. However, keep in mind this will absolutely not protect your eyes totally. There are other measures you should consider such as:

  • taking breaks every 20 minutes, looking away from the screen frequently
  • avoid looking at your device in the dark: screens are more “aggressive” then.
  • wearing protective glasses
  • include a lot of antioxidants to your diet
  • taking some good lutein-zeaxanthin rich supplements such as Vistasaffron, to replenish your macular carotenoid pigments.