As part of my series on the Terrajolt blog featuring reviews of software lifehacks, I’d like to jumpstart that vein with a somewhat brief review of a small yet powerful desktop program called f.lux.
In yet another maladaptive facet of modern culture and the Information Age, we humans have become all too accustomed to being plugged in to the cyber-world on a nearly constant basis. One need only step into the nearest sports bar to be lambasted with bright TV screens in full rich HD color broadcasting the day’s game or highlight reels. He or she then breaks out the smartphone to either confirm the now-tardy arrival of friends at the venue or stall time on Reddit until society’s greatest social lubricant and crutch (alcohol for those clueless few) kicks in and suppresses anxiety. Or perhaps one can also journey to the local Starbuck’s to furiously study and type away at school projects well into the night in front of his or her bright laptop monitor.
Wherever you happen to be, the ubiquity of electronic displays vomiting out information cannot be escaped. Information overload, despite what I’ve implied, isn’t the problem I’m unearthing though; rather, the lighting and color of these screens physiologically disrupt the natural process of the body preparing to enter into the twilight hours.
See, these screens were designed to mimic sunlight, which is all well and good, until the sun gets chased over the horizon by Skӧll, that scumbag wolf from Norse mythology, and the stars come out. Now you’re staring into a sunlight screen when there’s a clear absence of glowy, life-bestowing orb in the sky (giant ass disco balls don’t make the cut here, sorry). Your eyeballs warm up, burn and sting, spontaneously combust, and before you know it, you’re writhing on the ground screaming bloody murder because you just glared at your laptop for way too !@#$ing long.
Enter f.lux. This nifty mini-program process runs smoothly and silently in the background on your computer, not making a whisper except for two precise times of the day: sunrise and sunset. At those moments, f.lux swoops in like a cyber-ninja and alters the color content of your screen’s backlighting. At sunset, it reduces white light and drapes your screen in a relaxing shade of orange, subtle enough to warrant little more than a brief notice yet powerful enough to minimize strain on your eyes in the context of usual indoor lighting. At sunrise, it performs the opposite transition, increasing white light to promote the alertness evolutionarily packaged with a typical human’s morning routine stemming from being greeted by sunlight.
You can view the difference in the two screenshots below.
So why do I advocate getting this free program? Well, mainly because of the sleep-improving effects it possesses, and if there’s one thing us wired, frantic, party-loving, boozing, ball-busting, plugged-in Americans love to screw with and loathe, even more so than foreigners and minorities, it is our sleep schedules. Also, it’s pretty clutch to watch the transition unfold in real-time (it doesn’t change colors instantly), like your computer’s going into red alert and !@#$ is about to get real.
I’ll eventually be compiling an entire segment of articles on sleep and why you’re not receiving high-quality shuteye, despite what you may think, but I figure this little snippet is a sufficient striptease of what is to come. So download f.lux and give it a trial run for a while. Also nab the mobile equivalent, Twilight, on your Android phone while you are at it (don’t know if it’s on the Apple Store as well but it’s worth a looksie).