Apple’s iOS 9.3 update might help you sleep better

Your iPhone will soon be easier on your eyes. Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Apple is known to throw in some pretty useful features when it updates its mobile operating system, from battery improvements to smarter notifications.

But with iOS 9.3, the tech giant hopes to give you a better night’s sleep.

No, your iPhone won’t be able to sing you a lullaby, or cuddle you to sleep – but the update will include a new feature called “Night Shift,” which will change the colours of the light emitted from your device based on the time of day.

Night Shift will use your iPhone or iPad’s clock and geolocation to determine when it’s sunset. Then it will automatically shift the colours to the warmer end of the spectrum, making it easier on your eyes in the dark.

Why will this help me sleep better?

Multiple studies have shown that using blue light-emitting devices before bed can affect how we sleep.

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“We know light affects our day-night cycle, or our circadian rhythm, but particularly the short-wave or blue light from cellphones has a strong impact,” said Global News medical contributor Dr. Samir Gupta.

The light emitted from a smartphone or tablet, for example, can suppress the production of melatonin – a hormone that regulates a person’s circadian rhythm.

READ MORE: What you need to know about sleep deprivation

One study, completed in 2014, compared the effects of reading an e-book versus a regular paper book before bed.

Those who read on light-emitting devices took longer to fall asleep and had less REM – the stage of sleep you do most of your active dreaming in – than those who read the paper book.

The study also found those who read on a light-emitting device took longer to wake up and were sleepier the next day.

By transitioning your iPhone or iPad’s screen to a warmer hue, Apple hopes this new feature will make it easier on your eyes. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a cure.

“I don’t know if the latest changes that Apple is proposing would reduce or illuminate blue light, but I am doubtful. This is something you would need to look into but I think the way the display works would make it impossible to eliminate the blue light issue,” Gupta said.

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The iOS 9.3 update was recently made available to developers, which means it will be a few weeks before the public will be able to download the update.

In the meantime, you might want to think about setting yourself a digital bedtime. Most experts recommend you should avoid looking at screens of any type – yes that means smartphones, tablets and TVs – at least an hour before bedtime.

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