Ask Lifehacker: Sending My PC To Sleep

Ask Lifehacker: Sending My PC To Sleep

Dear Lifehacker, I am 18 and I have developed a bad habit of staying up late. I’m looking to get out of it and I was wondering if there was a program out there that would dim the screen so the bright screen and lights wouldn’t keep me up all night? Yours sincerely, Can’t Sleep

Picture by montanaraven

Dear Can’t Sleep,

When I was 18 (quite a long time ago), my big challenge was getting out of bed rather than getting to sleep in the first place. Even allowing for my aged brain and differing issues, your query is a tad confusing: if the only reason you stay up late is because there’s a PC switched on in the corner of the bedroom, then software isn’t really going to help, I fear.

But presuming there’s a reason you leave your PC running all night (Channel BT, anyone?), then there’s plenty of rather obvious ways to stop the screen being a distraction. If it’s a desktop, then you could switch the monitor off. If there’s a glowing light somewhere on the console, then whack a book in front of it or cover it with tape.

On a notebook machine, the simplest option is to set your PC’s power plan to automatically blank the screen after a set period of time. On a Windows Vista or 7 machine, search for power options to find the relevant settings for this (they’re often weirdly altered by the manufacturer so providing specific instructions is a bit pointless without knowing the model).

If you like playing music to send you to sleep, then Sweet Dreams could also be a useful option. Regular sleep habits are definitely a boon, but at 18 you’re going to bounce back a lot better from the odd night of less-than-optimal nap time than ageing tech hacks.

Yours in pyjamas already, Lifehacker


  • I think he’s more getting at the bright screen when he’s on the PC is the issue, and would like it to dim the later it gets either as a reminder to go to sleep or perhaps to get his eyes to relax.

    Either way i don’t know of anything like that off the top of my head.

  • I don’t really believe the OP. It’s not that I don’t believe he can’t get to sleep.. because I’m sure he can’t. It’s that he is probably staying up much later than he should be – USING the PC. I have had and do have the exact same problem. The solution is get the PC out of your room.

    You just have to be honest with yourself. I tell people all the time I can’t sleep.. I didn’t get much sleep.. etc. but the reality is that I don’t GO TO BED – I’m sitting there on the PC.

    And you know the stupidest thing about sitting on your PC until 3AM? It’s that 99% of what you do doesn’t even have any purpose.. it’s not productive in the slightest.

    Ever heard / read that you should leave your bedroom for sleeping only?

    Assuming I’m completely wrong however, you can as Angus suggested tape over LEDs, or you can colour them in with texta.. which will at least dull the light. Turn your PC around. Strategically place books, CD / DVD cases, bank statements to block the light. I have experience.

    • Same reason I refuse to have a TV in the bedroom, although the missus really wants one in there.
      Im not going to be a ‘sloth in bed watching tv’ person.
      Because then you start eating in bed watching tv.
      Then you start waking up, turning the tv and wasting time watching morning tv in bed.
      Its a spiral of endless productivity.

    • Matt – your suggestion to move the computer out of the bedroom presumes that there is another place for the question-asker to use their computer without people staring over their shoulder.

      I’m not saying that he might be looking at material others might disapprove of, it’s just a rather off-putting thing to have happen to you anyway.

      Due to there being a distinct lack of personal space (I personally blame the sheer amount of people taking so much of it up) in modern civilisation, I presume that the bedroom is the only room in which the querier can do this.

      I wonder if there’s a reason why most external monitors are not software-controlled but require pressing those fiddly buttons. Taping over the little lights only goes so far, the big ones (monitor) need to be turned off completely. Apparently it is best that the bedroom is in complete darkness for sleep.

  • my (acer) monitor has a button that cycles thru modes, gaming movie etc, plus custom, which i’ve set for night (and blinds down) gaming.
    It also has an off button….

    A quick Google, gave me only the opposite (prevent dimming) but depending on the graphics card/chip, there may be a tweak perhaps?

    and, @Matt, yeah, bedrooms should be for bed related activities.

  • I believe what he is talking about is not being able to go to sleep because staying on the computer makes him feel not tired and awake. This is because the default setting of a monitor is meant to look like daylight.

    I had this problem, after some googleing i found this great piece of software. Called F.lux. It dims the screen based on your location and to the colour of the lights surrounding you. Its available for mac, pc and linux

    here’s the link

    Should help 🙂

  • I know what you mean and the blank screen saver can still be bright. I use a little command line app to turn my screen off.

    That way I can leave itunes running and still have total darkness on my screen.

    I also use the Power Settings on my Vista Laptop to do the same thing, turning the monitor off if I have left the computer unattended or fallen asleep with out manually turning off the screen.

  • Try turning off the computer. Works like a charm for me 😉
    Seriously though, set a time that you should be in bed and schedule your computer to shutdown automatically by that time. Nobody does anything serious at 3am so you won’t lose anything important if it shutsdown on you. I’ve never played around with the scheduled tasks feature in windows but I’m sure there’s a shutdown option in there. If there isn’t, you could use WakeUpOnStandbye to automatically shutdown at a certain time and have it repeat every night.

    Trust me, as a fellow teenager, you can sleep even if you don’t feel sleepy. Just go to bed and you’ll fall asleep out of boredom soon after. Waiting to get sleepy behind your computer only keeps you up later.

  • @astrogirl
    f.lux doesnt change the brightness, it changes the colour of your screen based on the time of the day. I’ve just started using it and I already feel sleepy 🙂

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