Yes, it sounds funny and weird but I always talk about using color therapy every day in your life and this is a great example. I stumbled upon this article below, where Katie talks about wearing orange glasses at night and how it helps her relax and get better sleep. At the office I carry the whole array of color therapy glasses and it is fun to see how even a few minutes of wearing them can affect great positive changes on my clients.
Read on for her explanation on how the orange glasses works and some more interesting info.
My post on how to get better sleep naturally has gotten really popular lately and I get a lot of questions about sleep problems, so I thought it would be helpful to share something that has improved my sleep lately: Wearing orange sunglasses at night.
If you look at the research, it turns out that wearing silly glasses can serve a serious purpose!
The Problem with Blue Light:There is a lot of research showing that blue light after sunset can disrupt circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin production but recent studies are showing that this has even more serious consequences.
Think about it, until the invention of electric light bulbs, people relied on the sun for the majority of their light and used only natural sources like candles, campfires and lanterns after dark (all orange lights). With the dawn of modern electricity, we suddenly had the ability to stay up with lights on for many hours after sunset.
With computers, TVs, tablets and phones, this use has extended even more and these new technologies are especially high in blue light.
Electricity brought many benefits, but it also gave us the ability to mess with our circadian rhythm and our sleep cycles.
Researchers have known for years that shift workers and those who are regularly up late at night are at a higher risk for various cancers but more recent research shows that even recreational exposure to blue light for a few hours at night can have a negative effect.
Some researchers even promote the theory that the disruption of natural circadian rhythm from (blue) light after dark is a big contributing factor to the rise in obesity and chronic disease. (1) There is even evidence linking this disruption of the sleep cycle to higher rates of heart disease, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems. (2)
From Harvard Medical School:
“Study after study has linked working the night shift and exposure to light at night to several types of cancer (breast, prostate), diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. It’s not exactly clear why nighttime light exposure seems to be so bad for us. But we do know that exposure to light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms, and there’s some experimental evidence (it’s very preliminary) that lower melatonin levels might explain the association with cancer.” (3)Shift workers and those up after 11pm seem to be especially at risk for the negative effects of blue light, but the research is showing that any of us who are up after dark looking at sources of blue light (TV, computer, etc) are at risk. Since my work day begins when my kids go to bed at 8, avoiding these things was not an option so I looked for another solution.
Orange to Block the Blue:Turns out, there is a simple way to reduce most of the blue light we see at night: orange sunglasses. From Harvard again:
“While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light does so more powerfully. Harvard researchers and their colleagues conducted an experiment comparing the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light to exposure to green light of comparable brightness. The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).It is important to note that blue light in itself is actually a very good thing and that exposure to blue light (preferably outdoors) is important during the day to maintain proper circadian rhythm. It is only blue light at night that causes the problem since this light signals the body that it is still daytime (sunlight has a lot of blue light). (This PDF explains more)
“In another study of blue light, researchers at the University of Toronto compared the melatonin levels of people exposed to bright indoor light who were wearing blue-light–blocking goggles to people exposed to regular dim light without wearing goggles. The fact that the levels of the hormone were about the same in the two groups strengthens the hypothesis that blue light is a potent suppressor of melatonin. It also suggests that shift workers and night owls could perhaps protect themselves if they wore eyewear that blocks blue light.”
In fact, avoiding blue light during the day has been linked to depression and sleep troubles so it is important to get blue light, but only during the day.
Psychology Today explains the benefits of wearing blue-blocking sunglasses at night:
- “A study of 20 adults who wore either blue-light blocking or ultraviolet-light blocking glasses for 3 hours before sleep found that both sleep quality and mood improved among those in the group who wore blue-light blocking glasses, compared to the ultraviolet-light blocking group.
- Shift workers are at especially high risk for circadian rhythm disruptions, because of their non-traditional schedules. In a study by scientists at Quebec’s Universite Laval, nightshift workers used blue-light blocking glasses at or near the end of their overnight shifts for 4 weeks. At the end of study period, their overall sleep amounts increased, as did their sleep efficiency.”
What You Can Do to Avoid Blue Light at Night:
- Limit or avoid TV, computer, phone, etc after dark
- If that isn’t possible or plausible, use orange sunglasses to help greatly reduce the blue light. I use these Uvex glasses because they were inexpensive and the most effective at reducing blue light of any of the orange glasses I tried (they also have one that fits over reading glasses). I actually ordered several pairs and these were the most comfortable and effective. You can also find more high end official blublocker glasses if you want a slightly higher quality pair.
- Install an app like f.lux on computers and tablets. This automatically reduces blue light on these devices after dark.
- Dim overhead lights or just use lamps with orange bulbs after dark. Our favorite way to do this is by using salt lamps to light our house at night. Bonus: They also help clean the air.
- Exposure yourself to sunlight during the day to help keep your circadian rhythm in check and get some Vitamin D at the same time.
1. Obesity and metabolic syndrome: Association with chronodisruption, sleep deprivation, and melatonin suppression
2. Melatonin and circadian biology in human cardiovascular disease
3. Blue Light Has a Dark Side – Harvard Medical School
4.Exposure to Room Light before Bedtime Suppresses Melatonin Onset and Shortens Melatonin Duration in Humans
5. More studies on blue light and melatonin available here.