UPDATED MARCH 28, 2018: Added additional information resources and F.lux alternatives
If you’re busy building a business online or searching out clients, you’re probably spending a lot of time at the computer.
You might notice that sometimes the screen just doesn’t quite look right or causes you to squint or change your brightness. Even worse, you might find that you more you work, the more often you experience headaches, nausea or other bits of unpleasantness.
Part of this is biological.
F.lux is here to help!
The F.lux Difference
F.lux promises to make your monitor easier to view at night as well as promote a restful night’s sleep.
When I first heard of it, I was skeptical to say the least. What in the world does my monitor have to do with my sleep habits?
Turn out that studies are piling up about the impact of blue light on health and sleep patterns. Here’s a couple studies from Harvard Health Publications and Scientific American if you’re looking for more information on the topic.
There’s also this GREAT guide from SleepyBliss that covers a ton of ground about electronics usage, blue light, and generally improving your sleep. It offers a few other tips you won’t find here.
Most displays, including that tablet you keep next to the bed for reading, are configured to mimic the light spectrum of the sun. The whites on the screen will often exhibit a bright, subtle blue tint. You don’t notice this during the day because your eyes are accustomed to it.
However, if you’ve ever sat down at your monitor at night and felt your retinas melting like the face of that guy in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, you can see the problems this poses at night. This is where F.lux comes in.
Getting Started with F.lux
F.lux runs in the background while you go about your day. It is a small download and, on my system, it only takes about four-megabytes of RAM. After a quick install, you input your zip code or coordinates and it calculates the position of the sun and time of day.
That’s it! You’re all ready to go!
Throughout the day, the program subtly tweaks the color temperature of your display. Daylight hours are crisp and cool while night-time usage will greet you with soft, warm colors.
This helps to make your monitor more comfortable to view and reduces the stimulating effects that the ‘sun-like’ cool temperatures have on the brain.
Does F.lux Really Work?
For the sake of clarity, I’m no scientist. I can’t tell you what kind of waves are flying into my brain right now as I type or even the exact temperature of my display.
What I can tell you is that after using F.lux for a few days, I notice significantly reduced eye strain and less of those blinding moments that make you feel like you’re staring at an oncoming freight train when the monitor kicks on. I also notice that I fall asleep with less tossing and turning.
Possible Issues with F.lux
So are there any concerns about F.lux?
In most cases, no. The program runs rock solid and takes virtually no system resources. It is unobtrusive, doesn’t have a ton of questions for you and is easy to configure.
However, there are a few cases where you might want to consider the impact of changing your display temperature.
- Color Sensitive Work – For those of you in the photography, graphic design or printing industries, you’ve probably already cringed at the implications of this software. By manipulating color temperature, you are not just effecting the white spectrum, but every color on your display. Fortunately, there is a handy context-menu option to disable F.lux for an hour at a time or exit entirely.
- Color Shift Speed – In the main options, you have two options for the speed of the color shift. One is gradual across the course of an hour. The other happens over a mere 20 seconds. While your mileage may vary, I personally find the 20-second shift incredibly disorienting if I am actually at the computer when it happens.
A few competitors have appeared since this guide was initially written.
While they all offer similar features, they do so in slightly different ways.
If you’re a Windows 10 user, the Creator’s Update made bluelight filters a native feature. HowToGeek has a simple guide to get things set up.
Both offer a nice loadout of options without having to bust your budget.
For me, F.lux has become one of the first things I install when I build a system. After getting used to its functions, I find a cool white monitor to be annoying late at night.
While I was skeptical at first, and can’t provide any first-hand scientific proof that it actually works, it seems to make a world of difference for me.
Do you have any other tricks for reducing eye strain while working at your computer? If you’ve tried F.lux, what did you think? Know any other cool science tricks us freelancers could benefit from? Drop me a line in the comments below! I look forward to hearing from you!