I was listening to a podcast when the talk went off on a tangent, to a utility called F.lux. Whoever was talking made it sound like it was just for one platform, so I went looking for an alternative for Windows, given that merely 90.53% of us use it. The answer was F.lux! F.lux is also available for Linux, for what it’s worth. So I downloaded it.
The concept is simple. The lighting on our screens can interfere with our sleep patterns, so F.lux adjusts the screen based on what time it is, so that it interferes less.
It’s a 583K download, so it comes down fast. When you run it, it either asks for your coordinates or estimates them. It figured out where I was on its own, perhaps because I was signed into my Google account, but if it doesn’t figure it out for you, you can enter latitude and longitude or just a ZIP code. It will be close enough. Based on that information and the date, it figures out how long it is until sunrise or sunset, and adjusts the screen accordingly. When you’re done setting it up, just close the window. It runs in the background and stays in the system tray if you need it back.
The subdued screen does look a bit odd at first. In my case, it took on a pinkish hue, but it wasn’t as hard to get used to as I expected. It’s actually more subtle than it sounds. There are settings to override it if you’re doing work that needs color accuracy, or watching a movie.
I do write at night a lot, and when I’m not writing, I still do a lot on the computer. I appreciate anything that allows me to function a bit better. I will say that when I first installed it, it was after 10pm, and within 15 minutes, I was feeling sleepier than I normally would. That’s a plus–sometimes I’m still feeling wired at 10:30, and more times than not I pay for it the next morning. As I used it over the course of a week, the change felt more subtle and less jarring, and I did have an easier time getting to sleep.
The biggest negative side effect I noticed is that it does slow my system down a bit. On a more recent machine, the effect is likely more subtle. Even though I’m a speed freak, I think the tradeoff to get a better night’s sleep is worth it.