These days nobody seems to get enough sleep. One possible reason for this is screen use: using a screen emitting a lot of blue light close to bedtime disrupts your circadian rhythms and makes your brain think it’s still daytime.
Apple thinks it has a solution to this, and it’s called Night Shift. In this article we explain how to switch on Night Shift on your iPhone (or iPad), and how it proposes to improve your twilight habits.
Night Shift has also been available on macOS since the Sierra update. Here’s how to turn on Night Shift on Mac. And if you’re interested in how this differs from related screen tech, see True Tone vs Night Shift.
What is Night Shift?
Night Shift, which reduced the level of blue light being emitted by the iPad and iPhone, arrived with the iOS 9.3 update. It’s a colour-shifting technology that reduces emissions of blue light, which is said to keep us awake and cause eye-strain and headaches, and makes screen colours appear warmer and more yellowy.
It’s hard to say if Night Shift will help you sleep if you have difficulty dropping off. And as for reducing eye strain, it’s probably just as bad that we read tiny text on our iPhones. The surest way to improve sleep is probably to leave your device in another room – but Night Shift is worth a try.
Is Night Shift the same as Dark Mode?
No. Dark Mode is about changing white or light screen interface furniture black or dark, which is more restful at night. Night Shift just alters the colour balance a little, reducing blue light and increase yellow, warm tones.
Night Shift adjusts the colour overall, while Dark Mode just changes some elements of the interface. We look at this detail in a number of articles, such as How to use Dark Mode on iPhone and How to use Dark Mode on Mac.
How to turn on Night Shift
Step 1: Update your iPhone or iPad (if necessary)
If your iPad or iPhone is running software that predates iOS 9.3 you will need to update in order to use Night Shift. Go to Settings > General > Software Update to see what version of iOS you are running and to update if necessary. Read about how to update your iPhone software here.
Step 2: Schedule Night Shift
Go to Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift. From here you’ll be able to set up a schedule: you can add a custom time frame or have the iOS device automatically determine your location and turn on Night Shift at sunset and turn it off again at sunrise.
Some people have reported that this option is not being shown to them, because location services aren’t being picked up by their time zone. To fix this, go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services, scroll down to find ‘Setting Time Zone’ and make sure that’s toggled on.
Step 3: Turn on Night Shift
Alternatively, you can manually enable Night Shift “until sunrise” and adjust the Colour Temperature through the slider, with More Warm being easier on the eyes and Less Warm being a good option on a very sunny day.
If you wish to quickly enable it, Apple has conveniently added it to the Control Centre which can be accessed in any app, home screen or lock screen by simply swiping up from the bottom of your screen. Do a hard-press on the brightness slider and you’ll see the option to turn on Night Shift, on the left, and True Tone (if available) on the right.
We suggest going into the settings and manually adjusting the level of warmth you want, so that your device remembers the setting when you want to quickly toggle it on.