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This E-Book App Won’t Keep You Awake At Night

This E-Book App Won’t Keep You Awake At Night
[Top Photo: Linghe Zhao/Getty Images]

Staring at a blue-tinted display not only keeps you awake longer, but disrupts your sleeping patterns once you finally nod off. So if you like to read before bed, but have given up paper books for something more electronic, this can be a problem: Your before bed activity is ruining your sleep.

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Oyster, the subscription ebook app, is now way friendlier to read at bedtime. Like the essential Mac, Windows and Linux app F.lux, Oyster’s new Lumin feature automatically adjusts the app’s colors depending on the time of day, tinting the whole display to a warm amber by bedtime.

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Humans take cues from daylight to help regulate our circadian rhythms, or body clocks. In particular, our eyes contain receptors for short-wavelength (cold) light in addition to the rods and cones that sense visible light. These receptors, which contain a photopigment called melanopsin, help keep us in sync with the Earth’s day/night cycle.

Reading your iPad before bed excites melanopsin. Reading a paper book by firelight doesn’t. Reading a book in the warm-tinted Oyster app helps, with colors close to those of the ideal paper/incandescent light combo. This lets your bedtime book do its job properly, letting you relax until you’re ready to slip into unconciousness. In short, if your book keeps you awake, it’s the author’s fault, not Oyster’s.

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Oyster is a U.S-only app, but many reading apps can be switched to a white-on-black night mode, so you can avoid the worst of the effects of evil blue light. Or you could switch back to paper books. Just kidding–you can’t even read those things in the bath.

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