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Blue Light Gets a Bad Rap, But it Can Boost Cognition

When I woke up this morning, my Mac computer had updated itself, and had a new feature: it could eliminate blue light from the display. Blue light gets a bad rap for its ability to disrupt sleep, especially because blue-tinged screens are increasingly used right before bed time.

The flip side gets less attention. The same alertness that disrupts sleep can be helpful when trying to, say, perform a cognitively demanding task. In one recent study, participants exposed to blue light for 30 minutes performed better in a short-term memory task afterward.

So when you're not trying to sleep, blue light can be your friend. Experiment for yourself, tracking your cognitive performance under various lighting conditions, and tracking sleep to make sure disruptions don't cancel out any benefits.

Have you paid attention to how blue light affects your day? Do you use "night shift" features on your phone or computer? Let us know in the comments.