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Cyan under the microscope

This month: Cyan

As in the colour cyan?

That’s the one – the blue-green that is one of the primary colours in the subtractive colour model.

What’s the latest?

University of Manchester researchers believe that the colour is a hidden factor in encouraging or preventing sleep. They say higher levels of cyan keep people awake, while reducing cyan is associated with helping them sleep. The impact was felt even if changes were not visible.

Wasn’t this the case recently with blue light?

Yes. Researchers have already established the link between colours and sleep – and blue light was previously identified as more likely to delay sleep. "Night mode" settings have since been created for phones and laptops, which have reduced blue light in an attempt to lessen the damage to sleep.

What’s next for cyan?

Researchers are now calling for devices for computer screens and phones that could increase or decrease cyan levels.

Why would you want to increase levels?

While lowering levels can help people sleep, increasing cyan could be helpful for the screens of people who are working at night and need to stay awake.

How easy is it to reduce cyan?

It’s not too tricky, apparently. The researchers say that they can create the same colours without using cyan.

What about just not looking at your device late at night?

That's a good idea. A recent study of 91,000 people said screen use after 10pm could increase the likelihood of developing depression, bipolar disorder and neuroticism.

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