If you are like most people, you check your smartphone immediately after waking up. You continue to check your emails and social media channels, play games, and message people throughout the day. Additionally, you most likely look at a screen for work and binge Netflix at night. Then you connect yourself to the world one last time before bed. Does that sound about right?
You may be wondering, “I thought this article was about blue light blocking glasses and whether or not they can improve my sleep.” Well, we’re just highlighting how often people expose themselves to blue light-emitting devices. From phones and tablets to computers and televisions, the average American adult spends about 12 hours a day in front of screens.
How Does Blue Light Affect Sleep?
From environmental light to the light that screens emit, we as a human species take in more light than we did 50 years ago. All of this light impacts sleep, which is why cases of insomnia or irregular sleep patterns are more prevalent nowadays. If you are constantly looking at a lit-up world, you sabotage your internal clock. The brain needs environmental cues that signal daytime and nighttime, i.e. light and dark. Blue light can wake your brain up, and it starts making chemicals that keep you alert and ready for action. This is not what you want if you are trying to go to sleep.
Is Nighttime Light Exposure Bad For You?
The pineal gland secretes melatonin, which helps tire the body and gets it ready for sleep. Constant exposure to blue light inhibits melatonin production, reducing your ability to fall asleep or sleep well. Blue light exposure at night is more powerful than a regular lamp, for instance. It can suppress melatonin production twice as long as green light. Several sleep research studies linked insufficient sleep to increased risk of depression, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
What Are Blue Light Blocking Glasses?
Blue light blocking glasses come with specially crafted lenses that help filter blue light from the screens on digital devices. The hype around the lenses is that they work to protect your eyes, reducing potential retinal damage from too much blue light exposure. The lenses have an amber tint, which works to block all blue light. When you block blue light exposure, your brain stops signaling the body that it needs to stay awake.
According to several studies, people who wear blue light blocking glasses produce as much melatonin as people exposed to darkness. In fact, one study examined the melatonin production of people when exposed to bright light, dim light, and bright light with blue light blocking glasses. The people who wore the glasses in a brightly lit room produced just as much melatonin as the people in the dimly lit room. The people in the brightly lit room without the blue light blocking glasses had much lower melatonin levels.
They Don’t Obstruct Vision:
If you get higher quality blue light blocking glasses with amber lenses, they will filter blue light without darkening your vision. The lenses let other stimulating light in, while keeping blue light out. What’s basically happening is that the wavelengths that the lenses let in are not as alerting, meaning they don’t suppress melatonin production or keep you awake.
Some people spend less time in front of screens while others spend all day in front of screens. The reality is that people need to manage light exposure to ensure proper circadian rhythms. Many people like to wind down in the evenings with a movie or episodes of a show, increasing blue light exposure. Slide on a pair of blue light blocking glasses if you choose to look at screens before bed, and your sleep will benefit.