Why I Wear Blue Light Blocking Glasses (at Night)

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Why I wear blue light blocking Orange Glasses at Night
Wellness Mama » Blog » Health » Why I Wear Blue Light Blocking Glasses (at Night)

When I first started wearing blue light blocking glasses at night a few years ago (which look like orange sunglasses), they were much less common. Someone once asked me if I wore them because I have some kind of eye disease! Of course the answer was “no”, but since then, they’ve gotten much more popular…

At a restaurant recently, a waiter asked me if my orange glasses were actually blue blocking glasses and said he had some too!

What are Blue Light Blocking Glasses?

Why I Wear Orange Sunglasses at Night and You Should too

In short, they are glasses designed to block most blue light that a person encounters after it is dark outside. Think of them as reverse sunglasses. You wear them inside instead of outside and to block artificial light, but not the sun.

If you look at the research, it turns out that wearing silly glasses can serve a serious purpose!

The Problem with Blue Light (After Dark)

Artificial light is still a relatively new invention to modern man, and exposure to this type of lighting may be drastically affecting our biology. For most of history, people rose and slept with the sun. Their circadian rhythm was effortlessly controlled by the light of the sun and moon.

Now, we experience light at all times of day and night. Electronics and artificial lighting emit blue light, which only occurs in nature during the brightest part of the day. So when we encounter light that would only occur in nature during the bright afternoon hours at 11:00 PM, our bodies get confused!

From Harvard:

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. It shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).

Reduced Melatonin

Research suggests that blue light after sunset can disrupt circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin production.

Think about it, until the invention of electric light bulbs, people relied on the sun for the majority of their light. After dark, they only used natural sources of light such as candles, campfires, and lanterns (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. We’re only starting to understand the affects, but we know that artificial light at night impacts cortisol patterns, melatonin, and circadian rhythm.

This is the reason that recent research found that just one week of camping away from artificial light could fix many sleep problems!

I truly believe that the next wave of medicine will involve addressing light, the gut, and sleep more comprehensively. Until then, we have to find ways to address these things ourselves. Blue light and artificial light at night have been linked to:

Disrupted Sleep

Electricity and artificial lighting have drastically changed the world. Of course, they have many benefits, but they also give us the ability to mess with our circadian rhythm and our sleep cycles.

Sleep specialist Dr. Michael Breus makes this statement in his book The Power of When:

The most disruptive event in the history of biotime occurred on December 31, 1879 with the invention of the electric light bulb.

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. More recent research shows that even recreational exposure to blue light for a few hours at night can also 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, 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 11:00 PM seem to be especially at risk for the negative effects of blue light. Yet, research is showing that any of us who are up after dark looking at sources of blue light (TV, computer, etc.) are at risk.

When Blue Light is Beneficial

It is important to note that blue light in itself is actually a very good thing. 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 problems. At night, blue light signals the body that it is still daytime (sunlight has a lot of blue light).

In fact, avoiding blue light during the day has been linked to depression and sleep troubles! It is important to get blue light, but only during the day when it benefits the body. I have a 10,000 lux light box (with blue light spectrum) that I use in the morning and on rainy days to help my cortisol rhythm for this reason.

The Benefits of Blocking Blue Light (at Night)

Turns out, there is a simple way to reduce most of the blue light we see at night: blue light blocking glasses.

This simple change could have big benefits, including:

Eye Protection

Dr. Mercola explains that “the benefits of blue-blocking glasses are immense and varied. In my view the primary benefit is to prevent damage to the DHA essential fat in your retinal pigmented epithelium. This is responsible for converting sunlight into vital DC electric current your body needs.”

Melatonin Production

Researchers at the University of Toronto compared the melatonin levels of two groups:

  1. People exposed to bright indoor light who were wearing blue-light–blocking goggles
  2. People exposed to regular dim light without wearing goggles.

Melatonin levels were about the same in the two groups. This 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.

Cortisol Patterns

I notice a big difference in my sleep and my cortisol patters when I regularly wear blue light blocking glasses at night. From testing, I’ve found that my salivary cortisol pattern is drastically improved when I avoid blue light after dark.

Better Sleep

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.

Help for Shift Workers

Shift workers are at especially high risk for circadian rhythm disruptions, because of their non-traditional schedules. At study from Quebec’s Universite Laval, studied nightshift workers who used blue-light blocking glasses at or near the end of their overnight shifts for 4 weeks. At the end of the study period, their overall sleep amounts increased, as did their sleep efficiency.

Mitochondria Support

There is some evidence that blue light will increase the distance of the proteins in the respiratory electron transport chain in the mitochondria. This makes them much less efficient in producing mitochondria.

How to Find Blue Light Blocking Glasses

Of all the health related changes I’ve made, this is one of the easiest and most effective! I just put on my blue light blocking glasses when the sun goes down and take them off when I go to bed.

Thankfully, there are now some great (and even trendy) blue light blocking glasses. When I first started wearing them, I could only find unattractive, hunting-type glasses (see small photo near the top of post). After trying many glasses, our family now uses these:

Other Ways to Limit & Avoid Blue Light at Night

Ever tried blue light blocking glasses? Would you wear orange sunglasses at night? Think it’s weird? Share below!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


167 responses to “Why I Wear Blue Light Blocking Glasses (at Night)”

  1. Lous Avatar

    It makes perfect sense that the orange glasses would reduce the blue light. Orange is the complement of blue on the color wheel. In painting to dull one color, add its complement.

  2. Amy Avatar

    Hi, I want to add that when I read at night, I wear one of those miner’s headlamps (really attractive, right???) but I only use the red LED setting. I noticed a few years ago that I would start to feel hyper and wound up when I had it on the bright, white setting while reading in bed and it could keep me awake for hours.

    I use a sleep mask too sometimes.
    I will look in to the orange sunglasses now too:) thanks!

    1. Laurie Avatar

      You have to jailbreak your iPad in order to install Cydia. I wouldn’t recommend that, for various reasons. I’ve done it before, but you’re going to need to be comfortable with writing code in order to be successful. Look for a blue light filter that goes on your iPad instead. SleepShield is $30 for iPad Air, which is a much better option than bricking your $600 iPad by jailbreaking.

  3. Kim Avatar

    I really would like to get f.lux on my ipad air. Does anyone have an easy way of doing this? It says you have to download Cadiz in order to do this, but I am having a really hard time getting it to work. I would appreciate any help!
    Thank you!

  4. Jessica Avatar

    I use f.lux on my computer and iPhone. I can’t say I notice a difference because I’ve never had issues sleeping. If I do have trouble with waking up at night, it has more to do with wonky blood sugar. But I highly recommend f.lux anyway, and who knows? Maybe if I got rid of it my sleep would decline over time. I love how it can use your location services to fade on and off based on when sunset and sunrise are in your location. It’s a bummer f.lux doesn’t have an app for Android devices yet, but I have installed something similar on my tablet and I have no idea if it’s actually working. In the evenings I also prefer to read to help me avoid the TV late at night.

  5. Steve Avatar

    Great article. I have used the exact same glasses for about 6 months as well as use Flux. Before using the glasses, I struggled to get 8 hours of sleep. I would not get sleepy until around midnight (often later) and awoke around 5:30-6:00 without an alarm. The first night I used the glasses (putting them on at sunset) I got sleepy and went to bed at 10. My sleep quality also improved tremendously. The only thing that stinks is watching orange TV for a couple of hours but it no longer is an issue for me.

    Now I consistently get around 8 hours of more restful sleep. If your sleep suffers at all get the glasses.

  6. Laurie Avatar

    I’ve had a pair of these glasses for a few years now and they really do work. Sure, you look like a dork wandering around your house at night in safety glasses, but if it helps me to fall asleep, who cares! I’ve had terrible insomnia since childhood and the anti-blue light therapies have worked for me. I have a salt lamp in my bedroom, and for other lights that you might use at night, you can try yellow bug light bulbs, and if you search hard enough, you can find amber colored chandelier bulbs. The key though is once your house is in amber lockdown for the night do not turn on the TV, gadgets or regular lights – not even for 10 seconds – without the glasses on. It will screw up the whole process. For middle of the night trips to the bathroom, get a salt lamp night light. And for the nights when I really need it, I use Hylands homeopathic Nerve Tonic and Insomnia tablets. 2 Nerve Tonics an hour before bed, and 2 Insomnia when I’m ready to fall asleep. They dissolve under your tongue so they work quickly. The combination of these two homeopathic tablets work way better than any prescription or over the counter sleep aid, and believe me, I’ve tried them all. The Nerve Tonic can be taken during the day (it doesn’t make you tired, but calms your mind), so they come in handy for say, spending the afternoon with your Mother. 😉 I’m guilty of late night iPad-ing, so look for a blue light blocker for your iPad and smartphone. I like these: http://www.sleepshield.com Sorry to be so long winded, but I really hope this comment might help others struggling with insomnia.

  7. Lara Avatar

    What do you think about wearing a facemask while sleeping? We have 7 windows in our bedroom. No way my husband is going to want black out shades. Is a facemask a good option?

      1. Karen Scribner Avatar
        Karen Scribner

        A dark room is best. Light can pass through your skull and affect you too.

    1. Rachelle Avatar

      Yes, a sleep mask is a good idea. ideally you should sleep in sleep in a dark room, particularly if you sleep on an usual or irregular schedule (i.e., trying to get much of your sleep during daylight hours). Plenty of light gets in through your closed eyelids, enough to affect the production of melatonin (not to mention that it will wake you up).

    2. Jordan Kravitz Avatar
      Jordan Kravitz

      Hey Lara –

      If you can’t get blackout blinds, then your eye mask idea is a good one, for sure. If you want to go one step further to achieve great sleep, start your evening routine a little earlier than usual (if possible) and allow your mind to unwind. That was literally the biggest needle-mover in my sleep routine. From there, a few guidelines to follow that will go a long way are:

      – Avoid caffeinated drinks, alcohol, nicotine, and eating within 3-4 hours of bedtime.
      – Consider removing electronics from your bedroom altogether.
      – Keep your bedroom temperature on the cool side (65-72 degrees).
      – As per Katie’s great post, avoid blue light of all kinds prior to bed (avoiding it after dark in general would be ideal).
      – If necessary, there are several herbs and supplements that can improve sleep. Notable herbs include: lavela/lavender (5-7 drops of lavender oil in your bath), chamomile tea or essential oil, passionflower (herb), California poppy essential oil (20-30 drops before bedtime), hops (used in extract form) and ashwagandha (1 to 6 grams in capsule form or use the roots to make tea). Notable supplements include melatonin, 5-Hydroxytryptopha (5-HTP), and magnesium.

      Implementing many of these tactics did wonders for my sleep quality. Hope this additional information is helpful!

  8. sandy Avatar

    I just turn off all the color on my t.v. with the remote control on the menu button,basically it turns the t.v. into an old black and white t.v. like they had in the 60’s. Could of saved my self a lot of money by buying and b%w at the Salvation Army. 🙂 It does seem to make a difference, I seem to sleep alot better.

    1. Noah Avatar

      The white light of a black and white show is made up of all the frequencies of light in the visible spectrum, so it definitely will include blue light frequencies. If it works, it’s probably a subjective effect of being more conscious of it I’d guess.

  9. Misty Avatar

    So any advice for us night shifters? I work 7pm-7am and have not found any good information on reducing health risks associated with this lifestyle. Unfortunately, I don’t think the orange sunglasses are enough! Just curious if you have come across any thing. Thanks!

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      They actually will make a difference though. There are some studies that show it really does benefit sleep quality when night shift workers wear orange glasses.

      1. Lisa Avatar

        Hi, wonderful wellness mama! I’m a 45 year young’ wife and home school mom of three with a personal fitness and nutrition consulting business. Your websight is awesome! I love my low blue light glasses; my husband calls me Bono when he sees me with them on! I must say I don’t always wear them, but try to when reading in my BR. I also have the low blue light night lights for us and our children. We also cover any other bright lights in our rooms (from air purifiers, clocks, etc…) so the melatonin keeps a flowin’ during the night!
        Keep on keepin’ on, and God richly bless you as you bless others!

      2. Leslie Degner Avatar
        Leslie Degner

        Yes the blue light blocking glasses will help. Read the e-book by Richard Hansler called Great Sleep:Reduce Cancer

    2. Angeline Gallmeier Avatar
      Angeline Gallmeier

      I need prescription glasses but all the prescription blue light blocking glasses I find are not tinted. I’m wondering if they’ll do as good of a job? Also, do you know where I can get tinted prescription blue blocking glasses? Both of my kids have the essential living glasses and it’s helped their sleep tremendously. Thanks!

      1. Lisa Augustine Avatar
        Lisa Augustine

        I work at an eyeglass lense plant in Pa., and can vouch for the blue blocker lenses.. I’ve had Macular Degeneration in one eye and needed to see an eyecare specialist.. Reading up on macular degeneration, I learned that blue light aggravates it when you don’t wear protective lenses. Reason being the blue light permeates right into the retina quickly, and damages the Macula in the eye ball.
        Thank God, I found our company recently purchased TheraBlue lenses that has built-in blue blocker layers.. where yes, they are not tinted, but they still block the blue rays from sunlight , computers and LED lights.
        After hearing that one of the owners of our company updated all of her eyeglasses with new Thera-Blue lenses, I used my employee eyeglass Discount to do the same, and after two years, all of my 4 pairs of eyeglasses now are fitted with Thera-Blue High Index lenses. We also have a Blue Blocker coating you can have applied over your existing lenses, but the Thera Blue lenses are said to be even more effective than the blue blocker coatings.
        I have to say that I noticed a GREAT reduction in eyestrain under our flourescent lights. So , in my experience , even though the lenses aren’t tinted or coated, I found I have less eye fatigue wearing them- and I am continually working under those old fashioned factory flourescent lights. I also own orange or amber night vision glasses that do help me in night driving.. especially seeing the overly bright headlights of oncoming cars with wet roads at night.

  10. Ann Marie Avatar
    Ann Marie

    Thank you, Katie! I am buying a pair right now. Keep up the great work!!

    1. Alyssa Avatar

      My LO / 3 insists on a night light in her realm she sleeps great aboit 8-8 workout it she screams waking up scared etc… we use a small salt lamp plug in. It it’s right by her crib like shining almsot on her is it ok? We’ve tried to move it to another outlet a it’s her rom and sleep is disrupted

  11. Tina Avatar

    Thanks Katie! I ordered 2 pair. My boys like to read at night now on their Kindles so this should help them also.

  12. Karen Avatar

    My only problem with this is looking like a jerk. But I’d much rather look like a dbag than get cancer,

  13. Amanda J Avatar
    Amanda J

    Hey Katie! What a great topic. I tend to use my evenings (and admittedly, sometimes I go well into the night) to catch up on email and social media. A couple of years ago I discovered a program called f.lux which adjusts the colours on your computer monitor based on the time of day (or based on however you set it). I have it set to the sun, so when the sun goes down, my computer screen adjusts by displaying orange light instead of blue. I definitely suggest it for anybody who uses their computer at night! https://justgetflux.com/

  14. Laura Avatar

    I work 40 hours a week (10hrs a night/4 nights in a row) at a television station. My job is to sit in front of at least 15 monitors (computer screens and hd tvs) and observe what we are airing. Unfortunately, I’m not in a position to leave this job, although I have been furiously applying elsewhere. It has really taken a toll on my eyes and I am currently suffering from Computer Vision Syndrome or Eye Fatigue. I’ve upped my B vitamins (1500 mg/day) and Vitamin C (15000 mg/day). I just purchased the Uvex glasses you suggested on your post. Do you have any other advice on how to manage dealing with this kind of lifestyle? I have two children, 2 and 4. I’m always tired and my head is always in a fog which leaves me cranky and then guilty for being a bad mom. It’s so hard for me to switch back and forth from sleeping at night for half the week and during the day for the other half.

    Any advice is helpful! Thank you!

    1. Clare Templeton Avatar
      Clare Templeton

      Dear Laura: As somebody who worked nites when I lived with wee ones, plus I later attended a workshop with expert geeks on EMF fields: one of the problems for people surrounded by monitors is that the EMF field is “high Herz” exposure. There were two guys at the workshop who worked in network monitoring, multiple big monitors. They had devices called Tesla watches which “ground” the EMF vibrations to 7.83 Hz or so, the vibration of the Earth (it’s now a little higher plus you might want to check Dr. Mercola’s site for all the sknny on EMFs, it’s a huge pollution problem). Last time I checked, these were available for $100 range. For added woo woo, a good friend of mine who is credible psychic said that all the people who come to her who work in high tech environments are so wired she has to bring ’em down from the ceiling. THX for homeopathic tip, hope this is worth looking into. Best Clare
      P.S. EMF= electromagnetic fields. Analogy in the workshop was that gramma walked into a kitchen with a toaster, maybe a Waring blender, not giving off EMFs. Versus we have digital and “wireless stuff” all over the place . An old BW TV upped the surrounding to about 15-30 Hz, a simple color TV goes up to over 100 with much wider field, a big flat screen is off the chart.. You might be able to get a sound engineer or volunteer to measure the EMF field you work in, or find somebody who knows about Tesla wrist device for “grounding”.
      Yay orange glasses–I scored a reading pair for computering and ditto Himalaya lamps (turndownable at bedside, full blast in bathroom. ) Mercola has checklists for what to absolutely turn off whilst sleeping, especially EMF fields close to your personal head. It also helps to put yep new agey crystals or for instance rose bowls with (cheap) crystal chips aside computer, under your bed, etc.. One of the newby energy experts reminds us that Himalaya or sea salt is crystals, too. He advises filling porous bag or sock with bigger salt crystals and putting it under your medulla curve when sleeping. Really does clear some of the we’re all “wired” problem. Apologies encyclopedic..big subject.

      1. marilyn Avatar

        First of all thank you for a great blog. I am so excited to find a solution to the computer glare and the blue light/ melatonin issue. Have just ordered orange light bulbs and glasses and installed flux. It’s great on my screen- so much calmer at night.
        Now about electromagnetic fields. I have had quite a lot of experience re this topic and the research of damage done to biological organisms (such as us) by wireless radio frequencies from smart meters and all the other crazy gadgets we actually choose to have in our lives. Regarding what to have in the bedroom, my advice to clients for the past 20 years has been: no TV, no cellphone or charger; keep powerboards and transformers away from the bed. Do NOT use crystals any more hoping they will reduce EMR, unless you clean them regularly in the proper ways. They amplify, remember? So after a while of collecting up your EMR they will blast you with it. I have experienced this myself- I used to use amethyst in front of the computer until I realized what was happening. With smart meters now emitting RFR 24 hours per day, crystals would “fill up” too fast and be doing you more harm than good. Having a salt bath can help a little.
        Wireless frequencies ( microwave) do us much more harm than wired. So ensure all your equipment is wired- ideally computer, phone ( I gather this might not be so easy soon). The base of a cordless phone acts like a mini mobile phone tower all the time – highly undesirable if you want good health.
        If you have a laptop, plug in a separate keyboard so you will not be working directly on the laptop. Do not let your children put them on their laps.
        Damage done to the body by wireless frequencies such as the smart meter or wireless router can be insidious and long term. There are things you can use to protect yourself and the family from these things. With the smart meter there are 2 separate issues: firstly our circuitry was never designed for the speed of these frequencies, so harmful “dirty electricity” is created on the whole electrical circuitry of our homes. I only found this blog tonight so I have no idea if I am allowed to say the names of things that worked for me and my clients, but I shall and I’m sure you can edit if necessary! There is a good book on dirty electricity by Donna Fisher. There are 3 ways to help that: either install Stetzer filters in some powerpoints ( Google and all the info is there about them); or use the Earthcalm home protection unit ( I use both); or live in a forest. The next smart meter issue is direct radio frequency radiation. Unlike magnetic fields which we thought were bad before, this actually enters the body and affects it in all sorts of ways we will not go into here. The research is endless and dates back many decades. Do not believe what the govt and industry research tell you, for obvious reasons. There are ways you can shield yourself from this radiation. Ideally don’t sleep in a room which has the meter on the outside wall of it. But if you have to, and have no money, use multiple layers of the thickest aluminium foil you can get on your side of the wall. You can hang a picture on top! This foil will help deflect some of the radiation from you. If you have money ( all the gadgets are sadly pretty dear) you can buy material that absorbs and material that reflects. If you google EMF shielding, you will find lots of sites. Lessemf also sells clothing items for shielding the body. A very good way to aid the body in healing at night, is a shielding canopy around the bed- but costly.
        Regarding cellphones, if you check the small print of the manufacturers, somewhere they all say do not hold the phone against your body. Never allow young children to talk on a cellphone except with a speaker and for a short time. Never allow anyone to keep the cellphone in their bra or under their pillow. unless they really want breast or brain cancer. If men want to have children they are advised not to keep a cellphone anywhere near the future generation. RFR has a very deleterious effect upon both sperm and eggs.
        I could go on – it is a subject I am passionate about, as not only has my health been impacted, but I have known many others in a similar boat. We need to know what we are dealing with and what the options are, even if we would rather not know. For the sake of convenience and entertainment we are doing our bodies much disservice. At least let’s choose wisely where we do have choice.

  15. Kayla Avatar

    You might be interested in Flux. It’s software that’s downloaded easily and it essentially takes the blue out of your computer screen after a certain hour (usually around four PM). Highly recommend as it’s much much easier on your eyes at night!

  16. Connie Avatar

    Thank you Katie, another reason to LOVE your blog!!!!!!!!

  17. Meg Avatar

    Yes! I don’t have glasses but I do use flux on my computer since I’m usually using it to watch tv at night or blog. I have really noticed a difference and it’s easy on the eyes.

    1. Katharine Avatar

      Thanks for the tip on Flux, and orange glasses. I’m currently on maternity leave with my two week old at home 🙂 but when I return to work I have a shift job that includes night shifts, and they always take place in front of a computer screen. I will share the study with colleagues and see if we can install Flux on our computers, and am going to look for blue-blocking glasses for when I return!

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