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Sleep Better with Night Shift on the Mac

Posted by Melissa Holt on July 20, 2017
macbook bed sleep

As part of a recent update for macOS (10.12.4), Apple added support for Night Shift to the Mac for the first time. Night Shift, which had previously been available only for iOS, is a feature that automatically adjusts the color temperature of your Mac’s display based on factors such as time of day and ambient light.
Night Shift lowers the color temperature at night, making the screen colors appear “warmer” (i.e., closer to yellow or red), and then automatically raises the color temperature back up to normal in the morning (shifting colors to a “cooler” blue). The reason for this change is that there is growing concern that the blue-tinted light from our computers, iPhones, and even TVs is messing up our natural sleep rhythms, which are genetically tuned to the color shifts of natural sunlight during the day (blue/white in the mornings, yellow/red at the end of the day.
Therefore, Night Shift is designed to reduce the amount of bright or blue light you see as the day goes on, which can potentially help improve your sleep quality. And, because sleep is so vital to health, a feature like Night Shift may help to improve your overall health as well. So let’s take a look at this great new feature on the Mac, and learn how to use it!

Using Night Shift on the Mac

To use Night Shift on your Mac, you need to be running macOS Sierra 10.12.4 or newer. If you’re not sure which version of the operating system is installed on your Mac, check out Apple’s guide for determining your macOS version.
Once you’ve confirmed that you’re up-to-date, launch the System Preferences app. You can find this app in your Dock by default (the rectangular icon with the grey and silver gears), or you can select it from the Apple Menu at the top-left corner of your screen:
Apple Menu
When the System Preferences window opens, select Displays:
Displays Preferences
This is where you’d normally go to adjust your monitor’s resolution, change color profiles, or, if you have multiple displays connected to your Mac, arrange and organize them. However, as of macOS 10.12.4, there’s a new tab in the Display window, a tab unsurprisingly called Night Shift.
Night Shift Tab
This is where you can configure how Night Shift operates. You can manually turn Night Shift on or off by checking the Turn On Until Tomorrow box, or you can select Custom from the drop-down menu and manually set a start and stop time. The real magic of a feature like Night Shift, however, is its automatic adjustments. Simply select Sunset to Sunrise from the drop-down menu and your Mac will automatically enable Night Shift at sunset and disable it at sunrise, and will adjust the time as sunset and sunrise change based on the date and your Mac’s location.
Sunset to Sunrise
Once you’ve chosen when and how Night Shift will kick in, you can select just how drastic the color change will be using the Color Temperature slider at the bottom of the window. Sliding it to the left will reduce the amount of change in color temperature when Night Shift is enabled, while sliding it to the right will increase the amount of change. The default value in the middle is generally a good starting point for most users.

Toggle Night Shift via Notification Center

If you’d like to enable or disable Night Shift manually, there’s no need to head back to System Preferences. Simply activate Notification Center, hover your mouse or trackpad cursor over it, and scroll up to reveal a manual toggle switch for Night Shift (Bonus Tip: you can also quickly enable or disable the Do Not Disturb feature via this same method).
Night Shift Toggle
Finally, if you have more questions about how Night Shift works—including which Mac models support it—head on over to the Apple support page on the subject. In any case, though, here’s to better sleep! I could sure use some right about now.

One thought on “Sleep Better with Night Shift on the Mac”

Sam Solo says:
Thanks for teaching me how to turn on night shift! We just got a new Mac for school and I am still having trouble working all the notification panels. I’ll have to refer back to your instructions if I ever need to reinstall anything.
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