f.lux: stop your computer monitor keeping you awake at night!

f.lux makes the colour of your computer's display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.
f.lux makes the colour of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.

f.lux is a genius piece of software (available for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Linux) that I’ve been using for a few months now, that has genuinely helped me get to sleep quicker at night.

What it does

It does one job, and it does it brilliantly: f.lux adjusts your computer display according to the time of day.

Generally monitors are set very bright with a blue-y colour temperature, that makes them look great during the day. As the f.lux website puts it:

During the day, computer screens look good—they’re designed to look like the sun. But, at 9PM, 10PM, or 3AM, you probably shouldn’t be looking at the sun.

f.lux fixes that. Once you’ve told the program where in the world you live (so that it can work out when the sun will rise and set) and what kind of lighting you have it gets to work.

For me, the application runs when Windows starts, and I quite enjoy watching my monitor at sunset slowly change as f.lux kicks in; I’ve set mine to fast transition (over 20 seconds).

Flux settings: adjust your lighting, set your location, and transition speed.
Settings in f.lux are very straight-forward.

When the sun sets f.lux adjusts your monitor to look like your indoor lights (for me that means that that whites take on a warmer hue similar to the colour of paper the Financial Times use). And then when the sun rises again, the blues return and it looks like sunlight once again.

Effect on sleep

I noticed a while ago that if I had been using my computer a lot in the evening it was taking me longer to get to sleep.

It turns out that blue light affects sleep patterns and as monitors are back-lit—effectively firing a lot of blue light straight at you—you end up with a lot of exposure to excessive light at night.

A couple of hours looking at a tablet or PC screen in the evening can knock off your sleep by about an hour, researchers have found.

The f.lux developers have taken this into account and so “f.lux adjusts colours in a way that greatly reduces the stimulating effects of blue light at night.”

I have to admit that I was very sceptical at first, and the first time I tried it I hated it. Everything went slightly peachy. But I stuck with it and within a couple of days I was a convert.

And while I used to lie awake in bed for half an hour or more, since using f.lux on my Windows 8.1 PC I now drop off to sleep within minutes.

Conclusion

If you do a lot of work on your computer or iOS device after sunset then I thoroughly recommend f.lux.

Download f.lux today. (Windows, Mac, Linux, or iOS)

A week of much sleeping

Two red Lightning McQueen toy cars under Isaac's pillow.
Two Lightning McQueen toy cars under Isaac’s pillow.

This evening while I was getting Isaac ready for bed, I pulled back his pillow to retrieve his pyjamas and to my astonishment found two toy Lightning McQueen cars.

I know that the tooth fairy leaves money for collecting teeth. What body parts has Isaac been donating that explains why I found two toy cars under his pillow this evening?!

A minute or two later, once Isaac had changed for bed, Joshua came bounding in and revealed that he had been the one to place them there as a surprise. What a little japester!

Sleep

This is probably the right photograph to sum up my week: a bed. I have slept a lot this week. They say that sleep is the great healer, well it seems that’s exactly what my body has needed.

It is now nine weeks since the headache started, and eight since I was admitted to hospital and diagnosed with viral meningitis.

My energy levels are still very low and I’ve been taking my GP’s advice to the letter and pacing myself, going for sleeps during the afternoon when I’ve needed them. I’ve been sleeping anywhere between one hour and three and a half or more.

Over the last couple of weeks the headache seems to be loosening its grip on me. I’ve only had to take painkillers on a couple of occasions during the last seven days. While the headache once raged like an incessant storm inside my head, dulled only by 30/500 co-codamol that also played havoc with my stomach, I now only get visited by the occasional headache ‘thunderstorm’ that rumbles for a few minutes and then dissipates almost as quickly as it arrives.

My eyesight has been continuing to improve, which is a tremendous relief. My left eye is now just about 20/20, my right is not quite there yet. I can’t read yet with my right eye unless the text is very close to my face and I look at the line above the one I’m trying to read and rely on my peripheral vision to see the text.

I saw the ophthalmologist again at Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy on Wednesday. She was happy with my progress, and suggested there was no intervention that she could suggest that would sleep up the healing process. Nature seemed to be doing that on its own, so let it. I’ve to return in eight weeks.

I made a decision at the start of August, while I was in a hospital bed, that I should not feel anxious or frustrated about this. I am healing, slowly but surely. I’ll be ready when I am. It’s a strategy that, other than a few days where my optimism has dipped, is working for me.

Other than the occasional visit to hospitals, and a short walk with Reuben and Isaac last Saturday (about 2 miles, followed by a three-and-a-half hour sleep) I’ve been in the house (or garden) for nearly two months now.

I shall be compiling the next issue of Indoor Enthusiasts’ Monthly over the next few days. Subscription fees are now due so please send them in!

Here’s to a continuation of the progress I’ve seen over the last few weeks.

Cycling and sleeping

Sign beside road saying: deer for 2 miles
The B940 somewhere north-east of Anstruther

After a week off from cycling (to get over a tummy bug and to attend the IWMW 2012 conference in Edinburgh) I went back out on my bike again this morning just before 06:00.

I’ve done something to my right shoulder. Probably a combination of sleeping badly on it, and being jumped on by Reuben; I’ve started calling Reuben ‘Cato‘ because he attacks me at the most inconvenient moments!

It was good to get out again. Here’s to a slowly developing discipline of early morning cycles and to getting fit again.

Afternoon

When Jane and the boys returned from church at lunchtime (I’d been to All Saints, St Andrews for the 08:00, then retired to bed) Joshua was still asleep in the car, Reuben was asleep in the living room, and Isaac asleep in his pram in the front garden.

Joshua woke first so I brought him through into the study… where he promptly fell asleep again using his cuddly dog (Copper from Disney’s The Fox and the Hound) as a pillow.

He looked so lovely and peaceful.

Joshua asleep on a chair, his head resting on a cuddly dog
Everyone needs a Copper for a pillow.

Day 10: A song that makes you fall asleep #30dsc

30 day challenge day 10: A song that makes you fall asleep

Godflesh—Streetcleaner

I’m not sure there really is a song that genuinely makes me fall asleep, but there are plenty that I like to listen to while gently drifting off to sleep.

Not that I get to gently drift off to sleep these days. It’s usually more like a violent crash into unconsciousness thanks to two-and-a-half years on the twins parents programme. It used to take me sometimes hours to get to sleep, now I’m normally sleeping within five minutes of my head hitting the pillow. An essential, learned survival technique, I guess.

In my young, free and single days I used to listen to music while going to sleep. I’d pop in a cassette, hit play and hope that I was sleeping by the time the auto-stop clicked the play button up.

Occasionally, usually when Jane and the boys are away, I’ll dig out a portable CD player and listen to something in bed. And as they say that the sound of white noise is good to helping you make that transition into the land of nod for me anything metal and/or industrial normally does the trick, to be honest. Something like Godflesh, for example.

I also find Godflesh particularly good for coding HTML, CSS and JavaScript to as well.

Daddy’s bike

Close-up of a bicycle chainset
Bicycle Gear by donjolley at Stock.xchng.

Bedtimes with Joshua have been a little tricky of late. ‘Fraught’ might be a word that you could use about them. It’s certainly a word that I have used about them.

At his lunchtime snooze he’s amazing. You put him in his pushchair in the garden and off he drifts to sleep quite effortlessly, waking refreshed 90-120 minutes later.

In the evening, however, after his bath he screams. And eventually so do I.

But not this evening. This evening I was determined to not get upset.

No agenda

I read an article in the TAMBA magazine a while back that one secret about putting children to bed is to not have an agenda afterwards.  Don’t approach bedtime thinking “Right, once they are asleep I’ll have time to do x, y and z.”  they advised. But that’s tricky, because after their bedtime is usually the perfect time to get x, y and z done.

This evening, though, I actually didn’t have an agenda other than to embody a zen-like calm while dealing with Joshua on our bed.  And that’s exactly what I did.

What I got back from him, however, was this.

Daddy’s bike – a monologue

Bike!” said Joshua.

I looked at him.

Bike!” said Joshua again. “Bike! Daddy’s bike!”

“Bike?” I questioned. “You want to see Daddy’s bike?”

Joshua nodded an pointed out the window towards the shed.

“We can’t look at the bike this evening,” I reasoned. “It’s sleepy time!”

Undeterred Joshua continued with his mantra. “Bike! … Bike! … BIKE!! Daddy’s bike!

I am not kidding for 15-20 minutes he kept this up. At one point I thought I was in some kind of trance.

“Daddy’s bike! … Daddy’s bike! … Daddy’s bike! … Daddy’s bike!”

I couldn’t help laughing.

“Wheesht! with the bike nonsense!” I demanded.

He didn’t listen.

Bike! …”

At one point he stopped suddenly. His face was a quizzical picture, like he was trying to figure out how he could better convey to me the seriousness of what he was telling me.  And then, there it was, a tiny Eureka moment:  “Bike! … Bike! … BIKE!! Daddy’s bike!

I promised that I’d show him my bike tomorrow before handing him off to Jane who put him back in his cot.

“Mummy?” he said as he lay in his cot in the glow of the night-light.

“Yes darling,” she replied.

“Mummy? Daddy’s bike!