Don’t you hate it when every piece of tech you own doubles as a night light? Even if you make an effort to avoid using your phone and laptop in bed, the various gadgets in your room may still be impeding your ability to sleep with their stupidly bright status lights.
There are some obvious offenders—TVs, game consoles, and routers, especially, which love to pulsate with light whenever data comes in and out of your network. There’s even your PC itself. Your desktop power button might glow. Your laptop’s keyboard probably glows. Plugging in your laptop probably makes some kind of light glow. Your gaming keyboard and mouse probably glow. Your desktop monitor’s power indicator glows. Everything glows.
This is an annoying problem at best and a sleep-killer at worst, but you can fix it. Here are a few tips on how to reduce the tech-induced light pollution in your bedroom:
Check your device’s settings
Some devices let you control the strength of their indicator lights (or turn them off entirely). Dig through your device’s settings and look for menus called “brightness,” or “lighting.” You might also find screen and external light controls in a “power management” or “Energy” setting, so check there as well.
It’s also possible that your device will need some kind of update—software or firmware—before you can turn its lights off, so check the manufacturer’s website to see if your device is as up to date as possible.
Keep your devices out of sight
The next step is to simply hide your device from bedtime viewing. If it’s something small, like a battery pack, move the device out of your bedroom or stuff it in a drawer. If you can’t move it entirely, consider turning the device so the indicator light is not shining directly at you. Depending on how light-sensitive you are, that may be enough to make your evenings more comfortable.
Remember that some some devices, like a wireless router, won’t operate nearly as well if you stick them in a cupboard (or whatnot) to hide them from view. Thermal concerns might be an issue, too; if your network-attached storage device runs hot, for example, you should probably care more about airflow than brightness.
And I know nobody ever wants to do it, but if you can, try getting into the habit of unplugging devices before bed. This won’t apply to items that need to charge, like your smartphone, but maybe you don’t have to have your bright network switch on at night if your wired devices don’t need an Internet connection in the wee morning hours, for example. (You can even buy remote-controlled power strips to make this process easier.)
Block LEDs with electrical tape
If you want to completely block your devices’ annoying lights, making an LED-blocking sticker is as easy as cutting up a piece of electrical tape. A little bit of tape in the right spot should completely suppress any unwanted light.
For most round indicator lights, a hole punch will get you a perfectly shaped sticker. For rectangular lights or multi-light bars, use a box cutter or X-Acto knife to cut the shape you need. As CNET points out, pressing the electrical tape on a sheet of wax paper before applying it on your device will make the tape easier to remove.
Things get a little trickier if you want to dim, but not ditch, the LED. We’ve seen a number of DIY techniques for this: covering your device with a stocking or sheer sock, and even sticking layers and layers of clear tape until the light is at the perfect level of brightness. If you want the best of both worlds, though, you’re best off buying a translucent sticker.
Invest in some LED-dimming stickers
The most popular LED-dimming sticker, a brand called LightDims, comes in three different types: ones that absorb a little bit of light (15-30 per cent), most light (80-90 per cent), and “blackout” stickers that, like the electrical tape option, should prevent any light from shining through.
LightDims range in price from around $US6 ($8) to $US20 ($28), depending on how many stickers you need and what kind of packaging you want. That’s more expensive than a roll of electrical tape, but LightDims give you the best of both worlds: a little light so you can still see your device’s status, but not so much light that they become annoying (or sleep-inhibiting).