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. Cindy H. Avatar
    Cindy H.

    For the last several days I have been researching the best ways to protect my eyes from blue light and pulse width modulation. It is hard to find monitors that block both and impossible to find a laptop screen that does either. Fortunately, I ran across this article and then an article from Consumer Reports. At CR they tested three different pair of blue block glasses; Uvex, Gunnar, and Spektrum. The Uvex was the only pair that blocked out almost all the blue light. The Gunnar’s block half and the Spektrum only blocked a third. So just because a product is more expensive doesn’t mean it will work better than a less expensive alternative. Here is the address for this CR article: http://www.consumerreports.org/eyeglass-stores/3-blue-blockers-put-to-the-test/. Hope this might help someone out.

  2. Alyssa Avatar

    I use f.lux on my laptop and the ‘Night Shift’ mode on my cell phone at night; I find it super helpful!
    The orange hue starts setting in as early as 4:30 and, by 11, it’s quite orange. It also notifies me that I’ll be waking up in a certain amount of hours, which is a good bedtime reminder. I have been able to use my laptop within 5 minutes of sleeping and it has not affected my ability to fall asleep. I used to be up for hours if I used my laptop or phone before bed. Great idea 🙂

  3. Ilian Andreev Avatar
    Ilian Andreev

    I recently looked at Swannies for reducing blue light. They’re a lot more expensive than standard glasses but what amazed me is that in their FAQ page they state that the glasses can be worn during daytime hours as well to prevent eye strain etc. I think wearing such glasses that block 100% Blue LIght during the day is not very recommended as the light is beneficial during the day. What do you think?

  4. Andrea Jones Avatar
    Andrea Jones

    I’m super interested in this. I just started working part time night shift as a nurse (I’ve done it in the past), and am worried about the health impact. I keep my room as dark as possible and cool and quiet, but I probably need these glasses too. Do you wear them while you are sleeping? Or do you wear them while you are at work? Since it blocks the light that causes melatonin inhibition, would that make me more tired while working?

  5. Erica Avatar

    What about for contact/glasses wearers? I guess you could wait to remove contacts till right before bed so you could wear orange glasses. But some days I just wear my glasses all day. My vision is pretty bad so I have to have one or the other. I like removing my contacts after I get kids in bed just to relax & prep for bedtime. So any ideas/suggestions for this scenario? Thanks!

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      My husband has used the Gunnar gamer glasses as he spends a lot of time in front of a computer screen for work and he really likes them…

  6. Brenda Avatar

    Just a question: Would it be beneficial to use the old fashioned soft white incandescent light bulbs (they are about 2700K) rather than the CFL bulbs that are much higher and cooler on the color spectrum (5000-6000K)? Thanks!

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      CFL bulbs are definitely cooler on the spectrum and more problematic, but there are blue wavelengths in regular bulbs as well. Some people seem to do ok with regular bulbs on a dimmer, but I find the glasses easier.

  7. Hélène Avatar

    So definitely wud i wear em that im ordering ur pair recommended NOW. Never was able to research them out, so taking ur reseach and doing it lol

  8. claire Avatar

    My adrenal test results found I have too much melatonin production!? Anyone know what that is about. I’m guessing it could be to do with too little daylight exposure in the daytime (since it was end of winter and I had little time outside)

  9. Kim Avatar

    Awesome idea, I will add this to my list of things to try. One more hint for better sleep and this has been foundational for me…..Buteyko Breathing Method. ( Nose breating instead of mouth along with exercises to increase what is called a “control pause” ) It increases you r Co2 levels which opens up arteries and relaxes soft muscle tissue. PLEASE youtube this and learn about this. The first night that I taped my mouth closed and learned to breath through my nose instead of my mouth was the first night I finally slept through the night ( after years of waking up throughout the night) BTW I don’t sell anything just passing on another hint

  10. Mariana Avatar

    I have never heard of this before, but now that I read your post, it does make sense. Probably not for me that sleep like a baby (I actually take my baby to bed at night and end up sleeping too), but I think my hubby would benefit… that is, as long as he is willing to try it!

  11. Adam Trainor Avatar
    Adam Trainor

    Wow! this article is great, it’s interesting and factual. I have never come across orange sunglasses before. I’m guessing they are just protecting your eyes from the lights? So after reading this am I right in saying that it’s electronic devices with blue lights such as phones, television, Ipads that are causing people to have a poor quality of sleep? I know when I am on my laptop in the evening or at night I will dim the brightness of my screen. I think I will do a research on this and put my sleep quality to the test, because I have a bad habit on being on my phone in bed after dark so for a few nights I will try not to use it and see how I get on.

  12. Joe Avatar

    Great! I wear a pair of T’aime clip on glasse on my prescription glasses to help reduce eye strain by cutting the blue light when I work in front of my computer. They really help a lot. I think more and more people should pay attention to the conception of harmful blue light.

  13. Andrea Avatar

    Hello! I may have missed this in the post, but as an eye doc, I can let you and your readers know 404nm (violet) is also thought to be a risk factor, if not an outright cause, for macular degeneration. Blue blockers a great solution. Especially if you are fair or have other risk factors. Extra nutrition a good idea too (lutein, zeaxanthin, dha, etc.).

    1. Judy Avatar

      Should people at risk for macular degeneration use blue blocking glasses day and night?

  14. Liz Avatar

    I have the Uvex glasses you linked to that go over eye-glasses. They have been a huge help! Made a commitment to take better care of myself this year, and improving my sleep and reducing stress/anxiety has been near the top of the list.
    I used to lay in bed for hours before being able to sleep, even with working out, eating well, and getting up early. I made several changes in my routine (no caffeine after noon, cut morning coffee from 3-5 cups of coffee to 2-3 etc.) and a month ago I added these glasses, since I often find myself on my phone shortly before bedtime. It has made a significant difference in both how quickly I am able to fall asleep and the quality of sleep I have. I’ll wear them several hours before bed, and game or watch movies with them on too (they do distort color, but I’ve found it a fair trade for better sleep).

    Thanks for such a fun blog. I’ve gotten a lot of ideas from you over the past year! Love the DIY stuff and decided to give dry brushing a try too 🙂

  15. Ben Avatar

    I have a pair of the Melatonin Shades. What I like about them over regular blue blocking glasses is that the sides are padded to block outside light. They are also very comfortable. I keep them in the drawer under my bed and use them when i use my laptop or phone at night.

    1. Christina Avatar

      Great post, but you might want to remove the comment regarding Melatonin Shades. I came across the comment as part of my search for amber shades and ordered Melatonin Shades from the company website. When I looked at my credit card statement, I noticed the charge was almost 50% higher than my invoice. They told me they had charged me in US dollars (even though they are a Canadian company). They have since updated their website to reflect USD in the price, but at the time of my order, the currency was not shown. Even worse, after I returned the product for a refund, Canada Post tracking info shows they refused delivery TWICE, so they never processed my refund. While I know your great blog is not a place for consumer complaints, I thought I would add a post to protect your loyal readers from incurring the same hassle that I did.

      1. Brucey Avatar

        My wife and I use Melatonin Shades and love them. You probably got charged your currency exchange rate if you’re in canada, which i’m sure you must be exaggerating..can’t be 50% the canadian rate is probably closer to 25%. I ordered from these guys and had no problems. And their website does indicate that it’s in US funds..

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