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How to prevent your smartphone from keeping you up at night

How to prevent your smartphone from keeping you up at night
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You've been hearing a lot about night lights lately. These aren't the small, dim lights you'd keep on in your kids' rooms when they were young.

These are night lights for your digital screens that will help you fall asleep. That's the idea behind new light features for anyone who looks at their smartphone before they go to bed or in the middle of the night. And who doesn't? These night modes make it easier to fall asleep by toning down the super-bright screens that can shock us back to being wide awake.

Harvard Medical School a few years ago said those bright blue lights can adversely affect your circadian rhythm. That's your internal biological clock. The blue light can cause sleeping problems and much worse, including cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

You've probably heard about Apple's Night Shift and we've told you about a night mode in Microsoft's Windows 10 Creators Update. The idea is the same. The bright blue lights on your smartphone, tablet or laptop can be dimmed, so your screen has a more soothing reddish tone.

This softer light is less shocking to your body. Your screen mimics the dark nights that our ancestors were accustomed to.

The good news is that you can get this blue-light feature on some Android phones. Note: Unlike iPhones that are all developed by Apple, and have the same features, Android devices are manufactured by many companies. So the steps below to turn on night mode may be slightly different on your phone.

Depending on which phone you use and which version of Android you have, it may be called Night Light, Night Mode, Reading Mode or something similar. Try to find this feature under Settings >> Display. Turn it on and set it up to automatically turn on at night, and turn off in the morning.

Note: If your Android phone does not have this feature, keep reading for a solution.

Pixel

If you're using the current version of Android, which is Oreo, or the previous version Nougat, you can turn on night mode on your Google Pixel phone.

It's called Night Light. Find it under Settings >> Display.

Android Oreo

Do you know which version of Android you're using? Try this: Settings >> About Phone >> Software Information. (Or: Settings >> About Device >> Android Version.)

If you are using Oreo, it has Night Light mode. It's been upgraded with the ability to adjust intensity and control specifically how much yellowish-tint is added to your display screen.

To use Night Light go to Settings >> Display >> Night Light. From there, you can learn about Night Light, set its schedule, and turn it on or off.

  • Turn On Automatically
    • Never: Night Light will never turn on automatically and must be activated with the manual On/Off toggle.
    • Custom schedule: Night Light turns on at a specified Start time [default: 10:30 p.m.] and off at a specified End time [default: 6:30 a.m.].
    • Sunset to sunrise: Night Light turns on at sunset and off at sunrise. The time for sunrise and sunset depends on the device location and the time of year.
  • On/Off: Toggle that controls the current state of Night Light. This state respects existing automatic rules. For example, if Night Light is toggled on at 5:30 p.m. (before the automatic rule would turn it on at 10:30 p.m.), Night Light will still turn off at 6:30 a.m. And if Night Light is toggled off at 5:30 a.m. (before it turns off at 6:30 a.m.), it will still turn on at 10:30 p.m.
  • Intensity: Seekbar that controls the tint level by sliding from warm to cool. The seekbar can be disabled when Night Light is not activated.
  • Informational text: Teaches the user what Night Light does and why.

Android Nougat

If you're using anything older than Android Nougat, which is the 7 series, you can't use this feature. (Keep reading for another solution).

Even if you're using Nougat, setting up night mode will take up a few minutes of your time. Try this: First, enable System UI Tuner by swiping down your screen twice. From this Quick Settings menu, hold down the gear shift icon on the upper-right side of your screen. Hold it down for about 10 seconds.

You should see a message that says System UI Tuner has been added to your settings. Look for an app called Night Mode Enabler and install it from the Google Play Store. Click on Enable Night Mode. That will bring you to a menu where you can turn it on and have night mode go on automatically when it's nighttime where you live.

Android Marshmallow

Since many different phone makers use Android, there isn't one standard rule about whether or not you have a night mode feature. If you have an older version of Android, you may have this feature. Look for it under Settings >> Display.

Note: Android versions are alphabetical, starting with A. M is for Marshmallow, N is for Nougat and O is for Oreo.

Free App

There are a few night-mode apps you can try on your Android device. Their goal is the same. Your phone's blue light is gradually replaced with more red light. This does turn your screen red, which can be unsettling the first few times you use it.

Among the night-mode apps, Twilight is one of the easiest to use. There is a free version and a pro version for $2.99.

These apps can access your location and automatically adjust the intensity of your phone's blue light. They also have some added features, like a night-reading mode.

And if you thought that was fascinating, click here to find out how to unlock Android's secret menu

Did you know that Android has a secret menu for customizing your phone's system user interface? You can use it to customize your gadget's status bar, clock and app notification settings. This helpful tip will show you how to access this menu you didn't know about.

Click here for step-by-step instructions and screenshots.

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