Apple's Night Shift function doesn't help sleep according to a new study

Back in 2016, Apple added a new feature to iOS called Night Shift. The mode was to help reduce blue light, and it claimed to help improve sleep quality for those who use their iPhone right before bed. It's believed that blue light emitted from phones disrupts melatonin secretion and impacts the sleep cycle.

A new study from BYU has been published that found claims of improved sleep by using Night Shift, and similar modes for other devices are false. According to the study, Night Shift functionality doesn't improve sleep. Professor of psychology at BYU, Chad Jensen, worked with researchers from the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and compared sleep outcomes of individuals that fell into three categories.

The categories included those who use their phone at night with Night Shift turned on, those who use their phone at night without that feature activated, and those that didn't use a smartphone in bed at all. Jensen said across the entire sample group, there were minimal differences in any of the three groups. Essentially, Night Shift isn't better than using your phone without the feature or using no phone at all.

The study used 167 emerging adults between 18 and 24 years old who used cell phones daily. Participants in the study were asked to use their phone at least eight hours in bed and wore an accelerometer on the wrist to detect sleep activity. Those among the group assigned to use a smartphone had an app installed to monitor phone use.

Researchers measured sleep outcomes, including total sleep duration, sleep quality, wake after sleep onset, and the time it took to fall asleep. No significant differences in sleep outcomes across all three categories were noted. Researchers split the sample into two groups, with one averaging about seven hours of sleep and the other that slept less than six hours each night.

The group that got seven hours of sleep did see a slight difference in sleep quality based on phone usage. The study did find those who didn't use a phone before bed had superior sleep quality relative to those with normal phone use and Night Shift use. For those who only slept six hours per night or less, there is no difference in sleep outcomes based on using Night Shift.