by Daniel Wirtheim

Before a friend sold me on f.lux I attributed my slight eye twitches to an excess of caffeine. I hadn’t drawn the correlation between staring at a computer screen late into the night and my ailing optical health. I downloaded the program and used myself as a guinea pig.

F.lux changes the blue light coming from a computer screen to a softer red light. It was designed after research concluded that blue lights make people stay awake. So f.lux was actually made to help computer junkies sleep better. But others, like myself, find benefit from not staring at harsh lights.

You can download f.lux for free on the internet (it’s completely safe) and then it will ask for your ZIP code. The idea is that it will match the color of your screen with the natural color temperature in your area at any given time.

Just consider for a moment the science behind this. We’re all biologically programmed to get tired when the sun goes down. But since the advent of computers, we’ve been staring at lights that tell our brains the sun is right in front of us and so we should stay up. F.lux is designed to realign us with our natural, healthy circadian rhythms.

So far it’s hard to gauge whether my sleep has improved. I can say that my eye twitches disappeared and I feel generally less stressed since I started using f.lux. This could be a mind-over-matter type of thing. I do know that if I turn f.lux off I’m shocked at how harsh the blue light from the computer screen is. I had always believed that turning down the brightness would save my eyes a few years but I had never considered color was the most important factor. And even if it is a mind-over-matter thing, is that such a bad thing if it makes you feel better?

It takes a while to get used to. The first day I wasn’t sure if I could take my computer seriously — seeing everything through rose-colored lenses. But after a few days, I quit thinking about it. Now, after about a month of using f.lux, I stick my nose up at non-users with their twitchy little eyes.

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