Are you having trouble sleeping? Block the blue! Protect your Melatonin – just be careful with a few things
As an amateur astronomer, I’ve done a lot of research about light pollution. That led me to research on how light affects sleep. Here’s the summed-up version so you don’t need to read all those scientific papers I have:
– Blue light is great for being awake – that’s why you wake up with a blue sky (read about melanopsin and melatonin on Wikipedia)
– Blue light is not good for sleep; in the 470 nanometers range, that suppresses melatonin (a key hormone for sleeping well)
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– Humans (and other animals) evolved to sleep in the dark – or, at the darkest, full Moonlight (just 0.1-0.3 lux of light)
– Longer wavelengths of light were the only source of light at night for most of human history (fire/candles)
– Tablets/phones/screens / LED’s and many CFL bulbs have strong blue wavelengths that are messing with our circadian rhythms and suppressing melatonin because they have wavelengths shorter than 530nm – 540nm
So what to do in our modern world? Wear these glasses before bed. Natural melatonin production would have occurred with our ancestors starting with the onset of sunset. Wavelengths of light from the setting sun would have shifted to red, and fire or candles were usually the only forms of light available. Those are both relatively dim and in longer wavelengths.
Today, our “connected” world has a LOT of blue light. It’s messing with our sleep patterns because our bodies evolved to only see red/orange/yellow light at night, NOT blue light/shorter wavelengths.
THESE GLASSES BLOCK THOSE MELATONIN SUPPRESSING WAVELENGTHS.
Put them on a couple hours before bed. For me, I start getting drowsy about 90 minutes after wearing them. The trick is DO NOT take them off without closing your eyes or being in a dark room (a room with ONLY a dim red light would work too, as your melanopsin won’t trigger melatonin suppression with red light). So when changing for bed, close your eyes when removing your shirt if you have to pull it off over your head or put your nighttime clothing on.
Then leave these on until you turn out the light for sleep. And be sure to sleep in the dark too, or wear a sleep mask. Small amounts of light can still affect your melatonin (well, anything brighter then full Moonlight – yes, even a blue LED on your computer). You can watch TV with these on, check your phone, read your tablet, work on your laptop – just note that colors will look weird. Blue looks black. Yellow looks white. Greens look weird. And the glasses aren’t exactly stylish.
But if you sleep better, who cares? They work.
And while you’re at it, make sure your home’s lights (and business if you own one) aren’t shining into other people’s homes or apartments. Too much light at night is what makes these things necessary in the first place. We don’t need all this light at night; these glasses are just a band-aid to help; what we really need is smarter outdoor lighting – aimed down, at the ground, at the proper color(s) so we aren’t suppressing others melatonin. According to a Harvard study, the U.S. loses $63 BILLION dollars per year due to American’s insomnia. Artificial light at night messing up people’s sleep is undoubtedly part of that – let’s fix that so these glasses aren’t as necessary.
Oh, and did these glasses work for me? An emphatic YES, they did. 5 nights (so far) of excellent sleep and well-rested mornings. And I am NOT a morning person! They work – just use them the right way, and be sure you’re not doing other things that might hurt sleep (too much caffeine, lack of / too much exercise right before bed, sleep apnea, etc.) So if it’s not a medical condition, do the right things, wear these, and get better sleep.
These are primarily protective glasses and they provide good “physical” protection against anything that can get into your eyes (e.g. in a lab or manufacturing area).
The secondary ‘property’ of this specific pair with an orange lens to block blue light. In certain industrial environments, continuous and/or high level of blue light is present which can cause damage to or at least fatigue of the eyes. So, the blue blocking property helps to mitigate that for the workers.
Now, most of the consumers here (me as well) are buying these for their blue blocking capability and not the physical protection. Generally, the blue (and green to some extent) light is one of the causes of eye fatigue for individuals who work in artificial light (e.g. fluorescent), and with computers (the monitor being the source); therefore, some people are getting the glasses for helping with that.
Another interesting advantage of wearing these is for those people like me who have delayed sleep phase syndrome: it has been found that these individuals can benefit from reduced blue light, a few hours before sleep. By reducing the blue light with these glasses, the amount of disturbance to the sleep is reduced – at least it is working for me.
– For reference on the protective property of the glasses please visit http://uvex.us/uploadedFiles/ProductConfiguration/ProductLiterature/skyperfamily.pdf
– For reference on the lens tint property please visit http://www.uvex.us/uvexlenstechnology.aspx?id=4178
– For delayed sleep phase syndrome and the effect of blue light please check: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delayed_sleep_phase_disorder#Non-pharmacologic
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