It's been a bit crazy here the past few week, what with conferences, and periods of single parenting, and old papers that need to get written. Perhaps is a coping mechanism, but I've found myself falling into an unusual work schedule. I eventually noticed that my sleep seems to be naturally segmented. I'll wake up about 1 am, and often have trouble getting back to sleep for an hour or more. It turns out that there good evidence that this was the norm before electric lights came in and foobared our circadian rythmes.
I eventually decided that just laying there and listening to an audiobook was not good enough use of my time, but there's a problem. If I turn on my nice white lights, or even worse, look at an ipad or computer screen, I can pretty much kiss going back to sleep goodbye. Trust me, I know from experience. Having the lights on also increases the likelihood that junior will notice I'm up and force himself fully awake to investigate.
The problem is the blue components of the white light. For the whole of human history before modern artificial lighting, just about the only time you could see bright blue light was looking at the daytime sky. Our bodies adapted to use that as a cue to tell us it's time to be awake. So how am I supposed to get my important data processing and programming done, and still be able to get enough sleep to be able to handle the morning "get everybody dressed and out the door in time for school" struggle?
cntl-alt-command-8 helps a bit, but there's still often way to much light coming out of the screen. I was really disappointed when apple moved away from the fluorescent fixtures to LEDs for back lighting that it didn't include the ability to dial the brightness WWWWAAAAYYYY down. There are a few apps out there, like Shades, but it still feels like they're not quite doing enough.
This was my solution.
It's a sheet of red wrapping cellophane taped to a length of moulding that I had laying around. The moulding just sits on top of the imac and the sheet drapes down to cover the screen. Obviously I won't be doing image editing or anything that requires color accuracy, but for text and coding, I can now work for an hour or two, and then go back to sleep.
Come the morning, I just role the sheet up around the stick and leave it on top. A word of warning: What you don't want to do is just flip the sheet over the back of the imac, as you'll cover the vent. I suspect disaster would result.
Oh yeah. And it helps if you can touch type. The letters on my keyboard don't actually correspond to what the computer sees when I press them anyway, so it's not like having the light on would help me anyway.