sleep improvement needs a fixed sleep schedule!

  • first rule of the Mayo Clinic sleep improvement tips:
    "Stick to a sleep schedule! Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends, holidays and days off. Being consistent reinforces your body's sleep-wake cycle and helps promote better sleep at night."

    where I live (Berlin) the sunset at Christmas is at FOUR pm!

    at the moment I use a workaround. I was happy to find a small island in the Atlantic close to the equator (Vila dos Remédios) where the sunset is each day at the right time. unfortunately the sunrise is not before 11 am.

    dear developers, pls do not wait long until you give us the possibility to use a fixed schedule! I would not hesitate to pay a reasonable amount of money.
    thanks a lot!

  • I have to disagree with such rigid advice. I'd rather go with what nature dictates. If we were living out in the wild with nothing but the sun as our "clock", then we would be going to sleep and waking up at around the same time as many other animals, and it wouldn't be at the exact same time each and every day. Instead, it would be dictated by the sunrise and sunset.

    Granted, 4pm is a bit early and so I would definitely not enjoy that even though I'd still be awake for at least another 6 hours.

  • I suggested something similar here:
    In certain regions, the default behavior for f.lux may work perfectly, but it doesn't work well where I live.

    Perhaps being able to set an acceptable range would be even better than I originally suggested.
    Set a range for sunset between 7-9pm, and sunrise between 6-8am for example.
    That way sunset might be something like 7:30pm or 8:30pm in spring/fall, but it would never happen at 11pm or 4pm in the summer/winter.

  • I think that we should keep the nature's dictate. So when it is dark outside, we should sleep. And that topic is surely meant that we should have fixed sleep schedule for each week, for example, and not for all over the year the same schedule, that's nonsense. The nature is volatile and so we do.

  • I completely support this. I want a regular sleep schedule. I don't want to go to sleep at 7:00 in the winter just because it's dark outside. I want to regularly go to sleep around 10:30, no matter how bright or dark it is outside. I do not want my monitor to start getting warmer at 7:00 just because of the season.

  • Changing your monitor colors won't make you sleepy at 7PM unless that's your normal bedtime.

    Interestingly there is a strong argument for seasonality having an important role in health. Genes express very differently during wintertime (, and in the winter, researchers have found that people secrete melatonin for several hours longer in shorter length natural light days than artificial light. Melatonin doesn't start secreting until your eyes start to see dim light / darkness, and it's important for everything from circadian timing to being a potent anti-inflammatory - google it if you're curious, it's pretty amazing stuff.

    All that said, custom circadian timing has been in the Mac version for a while and will be added to Windows soon. ^_^

  • @lorna said:

    Changing your monitor colors won't make you sleepy at 7PM unless that's your normal bedtime.

    I think I recall you telling me that changing to warmer colors or light won't make you sleepy at all, it just helps prevent you from being too alert. F.lux or warm lights cannot make you feel tired, only you can do that.

  • For me, eliminating blue light and dimming all the sources of that warm light causes me to relax which, in turn, helps me have an easier time falling asleep. It's like I'm being gently eased into sleep rather than trying to suddenly switch gears all the way from the highest gear to the lowest one.

  • @lorna Also, about that link -- I don't know what any of those .... uh, genes or body functions are, so if you could give a brief summary of some of that, I'd greatly appreciate it. The only thing I got out of it is that we are seasonal creatures.

  • I'm not sure we will know the whole answer to that for years! But it affects everything from basic immunity to psychological disorders - from a cellular level right on up.

    Some diseases (like autoimmune disorders) present more often in winter, cancer survival is related to season of diagnosis (and sun exposure - Vitamin D matters a lot and there is a great deal of evidence that healthier sleep / dim light / melatonin is significantly important to fighting cancer, depression (frequently related to sleep and light exposure), and changes in metabolism - the time of day you eat has a lot to do with how your body processes sugar (guess what? Late at night and in bright light isn't a good idea!).

    But you're getting the picture that gene expression is very closely linked to sleep. Here's a worrisome example that came out last week:

    So here I've given you a small book.... and answered none of your questions, only given you more questions!

  • So, first, if f.lux is the only thing that cues you to go to bed, you'd probably expect this to work on a fixed schedule. And because of blackout curtains and alarm clocks, what I'm about to say is a bit more complicated in reality than I am about to say.

    But you have to ask how the circadian system does what it does -- and why aren't people incredibly messed up as the seasons change?

    The way we relate our sleep timing to light is pretty cool:

    • the light we see in the morning "advances" the clock (makes your day earlier) and
    • the light we see at night "delays" it (makes your day later)

    So in winter, we see less light in the morning and less light at night as well, and it balances out for most people to keep them at about 24 hours. If you see no light in the morning and tons of light at night during the winter, you will get later and later, and this is one of the things that appears to happen for many people with seasonal affective disorder.

    We probably also need some cues to go to bed in our world of artificial light, and that's what the "bedtime mode" in the Mac f.lux version does, soon for Windows too. But the circadian system and seasonality work together, and for most people it's extremely hard to avoid natural light (because it's so much brighter than our artificial light) and so we think our artificial light should follow the seasonality where you are, a lot of the time.

  • As a Windows user with f.lux, I have kind of created my own bedtime mode manually. Here's how it goes for me:

    1. When I know I'll be going to bed soon, I start by dimming my indoor lighting and using only the warmest color lights that I have - and believe me, I have some pretty yellowish lights around here now thanks to what I learned about blue light recently - and they are made to get dim when I need them to.
    2. I switch f.lux to maybe 2700K or 2300K or maybe even 1900K, depending on how I feel. I will also dim my monitor's brightness down to almost 0%.
    3. After maybe a half an hour to an hour of adjusting to that, I switch to full-on red. This involves switching over to my new red LED lights (I had no idea how awesome winding down to pure red light is!!!), and also switching f.lux to 1200K. Or sometimes for fun, Darkroom Mode! :)
    4. After an hour or so of this, I finally decide that it's time to go to bed. I turn my computer off and switch over to these brand new 1W red LEDs I just bought made by Westinghouse. These are awesome: they're super dim, and they're a beautiful red. Talk about AWESOME. lol Not only is the light dim, but there's a 100% lack of blue light, as far as I can tell.
    5. I get into bed, get as comfortable as I can, and then I reach over and turn the 1W red LED light off and immediately, it's like my eyes are already fully adjusted to the dark and I'm feeling very very very very very relaxed and ready to go to sleep. It's like being gently guided into sleep mode. hehe


    So yeah, I like to do everything manually. I like having control over my world. What I described above is like an indoor sunset... sort of. It's very clunky, but it works for me because I want it work. I don't want or need bright light before bed, especially if it's not red light. I don't even want pure orange light. I want red. After a real sunset, there's no blue light coming from nature that I'm aware of, except maybe from the stars and the moon. I want to be able to see indoors so that I don't bump into anything, but I also don't want any blue light at all and I don't want it to be bright. So, I go for relatively dim red light. Now that I have experienced it, i would recommend it to the entire world, and with extreme enthusiasm.

  • And yes, a lot of "common sense" describes what the sleep researchers call the "homeostat" - the feeling in your head that says "I've been up for a long time, so I feel really tired." Bright light does in fact interfere with that feeling and makes us feel less tired, so seeing less light an hour or two before bed is essential.

    But, the circadian system is less well understood by most people. The circadian system helps us consolidate sleep into the night (rather than sleeping every hour like a newborn does) and it also helps our body "predict" the daily 24-hour cycle. The light you see even trains dozens of clocks throughout your body to be active at certain times and less so at others.

    So while "getting to bed on time" is a crucial thing, we see a lot of evidence for health problems and sleep problems may be due to people being in the wrong "time zone" due to misalignment of the circadian system, and fixing this likely requires different lighting for different people.

    So this very long-winded answer gets to:

    Mayo tells you when to have darkness (lights out and in bed), and I fully agree -- consistent sleep timing is actually a great sign that your circadian system is well aligned and everything is going well. But this is a good intention and it may not be enough on its own -- talk to someone who's elderly and wakes up at 4:30AM, or someone with insomnia.

    But, just to restate: in addition to "darkness" and time in bed, a big thing we think about with f.lux is dimness (not darkness) and what this means to the circadian system, and dimness has a lot to do with the seasons.

  • Dimness and warm color of light. Yellows and oranges and reds.

    I also realized recently that the physical location of your indoor light source is important too, meaning how high or low it is. A ceiling light is always going to be much more alerting than a small desk lamp regardless of the brightness. A bonus is if the low height of the light source is also pointing down. I discovered this for myself: I invested in a ceiling fan that has a light dimming option. Every single time I tried to use the dimming option at its lowest brightness with my warm incandescent bulbs, it was still very alerting. I could feel it. As soon as I turned it off and used just my little dome-shaped desk touch lamp, I instantly felt a difference.

    Now, there's one more thing to consider, and I have never seen this mentioned anywhere so far, but it is something that I have noticed: sound. The quieter all sounds are at night, the easier it is to relax. Loud sounds are alerting. So at night, close doors quietly, open them quietly, raise the toilet seat quietly, set it down quietly, set things down gently, don't play loud music, turn your general computer volume down, turn the TV down. Think of it like dimming the light: dim the sound too. Also, the gentler the sounds are, the "warmer" they are - to use the light analogy again.

    Then, of course, there's your body. Calm yourself. Y'know? The less exertion, the better. One of the triggers the body has for sleep is a lowered body temperature and a lowered heart rate. If your heart is beating faster and you're kind of warm, then you have to wait. I'm sure we all know this from experience though. One mistake too many people make though is they rush through their bedtime routine because they have to get to sleep ASAP in order to save time. Well, the problem with that is, it takes longer to go to sleep and you actually fall asleep later than you would have fallen asleep if you had just chilled out and moved calmly and quietly.

    Of course, you also want to wait a minimum of 3 hours after dinner before going to sleep (according to experts). The idea is, the less digesting your body has to do while it's sleeping, the better your sleep will be, and the cooler your body temperature will be and the better your dreams will be. If I wait 4-5 hours, then I sleep very very very well and I never have any nightmares or any problems of any kind. I don't wake up hot, I don't wake up feeling tired, etc.

    So, the nutshell version of this is, it's critical to simulate nighttime the way that it is out in nature. It's quiet, it's dark, and it's cool. Millions of years of evolution have caused us to sleep best in those conditions.

    Personally, I also eliminate all light when I sleep. I have found that if I can see anything at all if I wake up in the middle of the night, then it seems to wake me up a bit too much. So, I have put electrical tape over indicator LEDs on things like the TV and cable box and everything else. I want to wake up and be unable to tell the difference between having my eyelids open and my eyelids closed. I want to be able to sleep with my eyes wide open, basically. lol I believe that it can be done if there's absolutely no visual stimulation whatsoever.

    In other words, there's a whole lot more to consider than just the color temperature of your computer monitor. ;)

  • I'm not worried about getting sleepy at 7:00 in the winter because my screen is orange, I just don't want an orange screen that early.

  • Right, well, hopefully you'll like the circadian timing feature. Seeing a bright screen right up until bedtime is definitely harmful to sleep, and the blue color is one of the things that specifically delays / reduces melatonin production. The longer you're looking at a bright screen the more impact it will have on your sleep timing and quality.

    We wrote about one recent study comparing sleep after reading on iPads and books a little here:

  • So, you have made it clear to me that a screen with a warm color temperature can't put you to sleep -- but it will help keep your sleep cycle better. A bright screen (with a higher CT) will really screw up your sleep. I think that's very important to know, thank you.

  • Well, if the computer's monitor or the tablet's display or whatever is the only source of light, then yeah. Of course, we also have to make sure that everyone who comes to this forum understands that you also have to manage your indoor lighting as well and you have to think about your TV, etc.

    It just seems to me that too many people are getting the impression that f.lux is a cure-all or something. I don't know. Like, they don't have to worry about anything other than the color temperature coming from their monitor, and its brightness. It's like, "that allows me to have super bright Daylight bulbs in my bedroom". No, no, no.

  • I am using incandescent light bulbs and must say that they are pretty greenish when I look into monitor with darkroom mode. However they are still much better than any white bulbs or LEDs.

  • Try red lights, specifically red LEDs or red CFLs. Try LEDs before CFLs because CFLs create dirty electricity which is harmful to us. I recommend the FEIT brand.

  • I don't like the CFLs even I don't know anything about "dirty electricity" - what does it mean? I am an electrician and it is unknown for me. However did you know that when the CFL breaks, and the inner gas leaks, it contains mercury? So when it breakes you must open all windows and doors and ventilate for atleast 2 hours and leave the room to not get poisoned.

  • @WellTell said:

    I don't like the CFLs even I don't know anything about "dirty electricity" - what does it mean? I am an electrician and it is unknown for me. However did you know that when the CFL breaks, and the inner gas leaks, it contains mercury? So when it breakes you must open all windows and doors and ventilate for atleast 2 hours and leave the room to not get poisoned.

    I think everyone knows that, actually. I hope so anyway.

    CFLs and dirty electricity internet search:

    Feel free to modify the search criteria as you learn more and more.

  • Oh, yes. I just wasn't familiar with this "term". I've heard about it many times before, but in different terms. The cause is mostly from switched-mode power supplies. Yes, yes, now I remember.

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