Insomnia and Chronic Fatigue are so common. Statistics show that up to 48% of people do not get enough sleep. Learn this simple, inexpensive tip that has been shown to help people maximize sleep. Next in our blog series, we look at blue light blocking glasses, why you need a pair and compare a few different kinds. Please read on for the details!
We evolved with sunlight. For the past 100 years, we have had artificial light from lighting and lamps similar in spectrum to sunlight (O'Hagan JB, 2016). Now, in an effort to conserve energy and be more environmentally-friendly, this lighting is being replaced by low energy lighting in the form of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs) (O'Hagan JB, 2016).
** Please note: If you want the short summary version of this article with a video, then please click here **
What Is Blue Light?
Light comes in different types, according to the visible light spectrum. It includes colors of light such as blue, white, violet or other colors of light. UV light is ultra violet light. Blue light is a type of light, or a range on the light spectrum. Technically, it has a wavelength between 400 and 525 nm.
Sources of blue light include electronic devices such as smart phones, laptop computers, tablets, energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs and LED (light emitting diodes) lights. Blue light is good for the day time but can contribute to insomnia.
Blue light is beneficial during the daytime (Bonmati-Carrion MA, 2014). It boosts alertness, helps memory and cognitive function and elevates mood. It regulates circadian rhythm, the body's natural wake and sleep cycle. Exposure to blue light during daytime hours helps maintain a healthy circadian rhythm (Bonmati-Carrion MA, 2014).
But it is disruptive at night (Bonmati-Carrion MA, 2014). Exposure to night time blue light is increasing in modern society. We use energy-efficient LEDs in homes and everyone is using more and more electronic devices in the evening for entertainment purposes.
Your Functional Medicine Health Clinic
To see if our clinic can help you with your health needs, schedule a free call with us below:
Helping End Chronic Disease Through Empowering People to Heal Their Lives
What are the Dangers of Blue Light?
Exposure to artificial blue light at night has negative health effects (Cho YM, 2015):
- Blue light suppresses the body’s production of melatonin (Bonmati-Carrion MA, 2014). Melatonin is the sleep-inducing hormone. Even a two-hour exposure to blue light in the evening suppresses melatonin (Tähkämö L, 2019).
- As a result of less melatonin, blue light increases the time it takes to fall asleep and increases alertness at night (Cho YM, 2015).
- Blue light at night disrupts the circadian rhythm (Cho YM, 2015). The circadian rhythm is the body’s internal clock that regulates the sleep–wake cycle on a 24-hour cycle. Disrupting the circadian rhythm contributes to sleep disorders and this disruption is ‘dose-dependent’ (Cho YM, 2015). This means the longer and the later at night you are exposed to blue light, the bigger the disruption to the circadian rhythm (Cho YM, 2015). So, the more blue light you use at night, the worse your sleep and potential health issues will be.
- Many people do shift or night work, which exposes them to night time blue light (Touitou Y, 2017). Studies done on nurses show a link between night shift work and a 50-100% higher incidence of breast cancer (Touitou Y, 2017). This is related to the suppression of melatonin secretion, sleep deprivation and circadian rhythm disruption (Touitou Y, 2017). The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified night shift work as a "probable carcinogen to humans", based on the circadian rhythm disruption it causes (Touitou Y, 2017).
- Shift and/or night work generally decreases the total time a person sleeps, so they become sleep-deprived (Touitou Y, 2017). Sleep deprivation has serious health implications.
- Disruption to the circadian rhythm affects health. It can lead to higher rates of certain diseases; metabolic syndrome, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, cognitive impairment, premature aging, obesity, mood disorders and age-related macular degeneration (Touitou Y, 2017) and (Bonmati-Carrion MA, 2014).
- Blue light can negatively affect the retina of the eye (O'Hagan JB, 2016). Blue light may cause cataract or macular degeneration (Renard G, 2016).
For these reasons it is best to avoid bright lights in the evening. We want our melatonin production to be maximized in the evening to support good sleep. Filtering out bright lights in any way can help you sleep better.
How Can Blue Light Blocking Glasses Help?
This all sound pretty depressing, especially given our increasing use and dependence on new types of lighting and screens in the evening. But there is something you can do to reduce your health risks and not have to spend the evening in total darkness!
Blue light blocking glasses are a great option. They have special lenses designed to block or filter out the blue light from digital screens. There are many studies supporting the benefit of blue light blocking glasses:
- They significantly reduce LED-induced melatonin suppression in the evening and decrease alertness before bedtime (van der Lely S, 2015).
- Wearing blue-light filtering glasses can improve sleep, behavioral and mood issues (Guarana CL, 2020).
- They minimize the impact of light exposure through LED screens and can decrease the negative effects of modern lighting on the circadian rhythm (van der Lely S, 2015).
- Suppressing blue light at night with blue light blocking eyewear maintains the circadian rhythm and does not cause disruption (Nagai N, 2019).
- Blocking blue light in the evening helps people with insomnia (Janků K, 2020). People using blue light filtering glasses took significantly less time to fall asleep and slept longer (Janků K, 2020). People using glasses without filtering properties slept for a significantly shorter time (Janků K, 2020).
- Decreased evening light exposure via blue light blocking glasses in one study increased melatonin and sleep onset (Zerbini G, 2020). Reducing light exposure at home with glasses is effective in raising melatonin secretion and improving sleep (Zerbini G, 2020).
This is just a taste of the many studies we could quote that support the benefits of blue light blocking glasses. But we will stop there and look at which blue light blocking glasses might be best for you!
There are a number of blue light blocking glasses available on the market. There are some reviews but not a lot of research on which glasses are best. If you look, for example, on Amazon, there is a huge choice of glasses, at all sorts of different prices.
So How Do You Choose a Pair of Blue Light Blocking Glasses?
It is best to get glasses that block 90% or more of blue light. Glasses that block 50-80% of blue light are less effective.
Should the Lens be Amber or Clear?
The darkness of the lens indicates how much blue light is blocked out. Darker lenses are better for night time use. Amber lenses are more effective in blocking out blue light. People wearing amber blocking lens glasses had improved sleep quality relative to people with yellow tinted glasses that block ultraviolet light (Burkhart K, 2009). They also had better mood (Burkhart K, 2009). Amber lenses helped with melatonin production and a shorter time to fall asleep (Esaki, 2016).
Here are a few blue light blocking glasses available on Amazon.com that we like:
Eyekepper Brand, Price = $3.99
These glasses have orange tinted lenses. They block 89-99% of blue light. The frame material is made of plastic. The price is extremely reasonable. You can see more here.
4EST Shades Brand, Price = $29.99
These blue light block glasses reduce 97% of blue light. The lenses are amber. The price is very reasonable. In addition, the arms of the frame are made of bamboo, which is more environmentally-friendly than using plastic. The company plants two trees for every pair of bamboo glasses sold. You can see more here.
Sleep ZM Brand, Price = $39.88
These blue blocking glasses filter out 99.9% of blue light. The lenses are deep amber orange. You can see more here.
TrueDark Brand, Price = $89.00
These are a ‘fitover’ pair that fits over your own pair of prescription glasses. They block 75% of blue light, which is not quite high enough for us, according to the research. You can see more here.
BLUblox Brand, Price = $144.95
These glasses block 100% of all blue light. They claim to be the only glasses that block 100%. The lenses are reddish/amber. You can see more here.
It’s clear that blocking blue light at night will help your sleep and overall health to improve. If you would like more help in selecting a pair of blue light blocking glasses, get in touch with our clinic.
** Please stay tuned for our next blog on more peptide therapy **
As always, please get in touch with us. If you or someone you know is struggling with sleep issues, chronic disease or general health issues, contact our clinic today. We can work on any issue(s) and improve your health. Book a free health evaluation call with us today, to see how we can help you with your concerns. We can answer your questions and help you book an initial consult with one of the functional medicine doctors in our clinic.
Dr. Miles Nichols and Dr. Diane Mueller have spoken for the following organizations: