We tend to link Seasonal Affective Disorder solely to lack of light, but it’s worth considering that an excess of light at the wrong time of day can do a good deal to disrupt ones circadian rhythms. Thanks to electric lighting, we run our lives at maximum brightness until it’s time for bed at eleven or twelve, and expect our brains to obediently switch off after a day of stimulation.
I’m not ready to give up my precious tiny slice of personal time on the laptop once the day’s work is done, but perhaps there’s a way to have my cake and eat it too: An application called ‘F.Lux’ from stereopsis.com takes control of your computer screen’s colour profile. During the day, the screen is its normal sharp, blueis white colour. As the night proceeds, F.Lux gradualy adjusts the tones and brightness of your monitor, making the light softer and yellower, and less glaring.
The idea behind the program is that the harsh blue-white light tells our brain that it’s daytime and that it accordingly tries to stay awake and alert. Then, when it’s time for sleep…
So does it work? I use it, and while I initially found the nighttime screen a bit disconcerting, I got used to it after a couple of minutes. When the software is running there’s a little control panel which you can click to momentarily see what the screen would like if left to its own devices. Whenever I try this I end up doing a good imitation of Count Dracula, flinching from the harsh sunlight and drawing my cape across my face. Then I go down to the crypt and lie in a box of earth until I feel better.
So maybe it does something. And it’s free. Did I mention that? Free free free. And it runs on pretty much everything. You may as well give it a go.