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. Emily Avatar

    Are there non-blue light battery powered clocks or solar or rechargeable non-blue light flashlights available?

  2. Nora Avatar

    Katie the links for the recommended blue light blocking glasses isn’t working for me.The wear over other glasses are unavailable and the clunky orange ones doesn’t seem to link up.I need some .Any other reccomendations?Want some that work.

  3. Rani Kanagaratnam Avatar
    Rani Kanagaratnam

    Dear Wellness Mama,

    where do you buy these orange glasses from? Are they beneficial for indoor office workers who have to sit under fluorescent lighting in the day time?

    Many thanks,


    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar
  4. Kathy Avatar

    Do you know of any good ones that are bi-focal? I am often on my tablet and watching TV at the same time and need magnification for reading.

  5. Geri Avatar

    I just learned that it’s built into my iPad and iPhone to reduce blue light but I also bought some for watching TV. I’m hoping to have improved sleep quality

  6. Hannah Avatar

    Hello Katie, love EVERYTHING you do, thanks!:) so when it comes to buying glasses, can they just be amber tinted like either of the following for example, or do they been to have some sort of “certificate”?

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      Technically, as long as they block blue light, they should work, but different glasses block different amounts of blue light. The ones I link to block 97+% but for any glasses, just ask them how much blue light they block.

      1. Shelley Avatar

        Thank you for getting back to me! I was looking to replace the bulb in a pretty lamp I have in one of my bathrooms.

  7. Julie Avatar

    Hi, I used to see my grandmother wear her prescription dark/sun glasses to watch t.v. at night. I was wondering if wearing prescription sun glasses at night might help with the blue light filtration?

  8. Laurel Bush Avatar
    Laurel Bush

    So interested in these glasses. Wondering if it would help me waking up after 3-4 hours of sleep and not falling back to sleep. Also I see Blue Blocker Glasses in an amber color. Are these as effective as the orange ones.

    Thanks for all your research Katie

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      It very well might help with that, try it and see. There are quite a few different manufacturers who make them in different colors, but you’ll need to research and see how much of the blue light spectrum is actually blocked…

  9. Becky Avatar

    That was a GREAT question, Chris. I almost overlooked the fact that I wear glasses as well. Thanks for the wear-over suggestion, Katie!

  10. Becky Avatar

    So are you suggesting wearing the glasses AND using a program like flux?

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      Yes, both are good to do. Flux is good if you’re on your computer at night, but the glasses block blue light from all the other sources you’ll be around.

  11. Chris Avatar

    I work nights and would love to get a pair of these glasses I really struggle with sleep. My biggest problem I see is none of these glasses work with existing Rx glasses. Is there a pair you recommend that would fit over my glasses?

  12. Adrienne Avatar

    Hi Katie! I heard you mention orange glasses on a recent podcast – I believe you said something about finding a new, cheap version of them recently. Is there a particular brand you would recommend for kids? I have a 3 and 6 year old. Thanks!

  13. Rian Avatar

    This is all exciting and informative. But what I do when I wish to get a good, restful night’s sleep, is the following. I turn off my computer and TV about two hours before I plan to go to bed, then for the next couple of hours I eat a light snack, drink two good beers (not Bud Lite for example, but real beer), while reading an absorbing novel in bed. Then I set the alarm, turn out all the lights, rest my head on my Tempurpedic ™ pillow (recently acquired and awesome), and am asleep within fifteen minutes. I think often the easier, natural solutions are the best ones.

  14. Julian Stanger Avatar
    Julian Stanger

    The link you provided is quite old and older versions of f.lux as far as I’m aware used a color temperature of 3400k or more. From the spectrum it looks like the Monitor had quite a low color temperature to begin with. However, even if the Monitor had a color temperature of 6500k, at 3400k you still have more than half the color temperature, therefore what you see in those graphics – a reduction in the blue light of a bit less than half – is what is expected.

    More recent version of f.lux can dim down to 1200k. White light as such does not really appear white anymore and has more of a reddish tone. The link you provided showed that when displaying red or green light, there was no emission of blue light according to the spectrometer, so very likely by reducing color temperature more aggressively blue light will be adequately reduced. If you google fluxometer you can see with 1200k the Melanopic lux is generally reduced to a level that is not biologically significant.

    I’m interested to hear your ideas or further input.

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      Potentially, but not necessarily. It isn’t actually just the color, but its ability to block certain spectrums of light. So red should do some or all of the same thing, but I don’t know for sure without testing it.

  15. Kate Avatar

    Love love love your blog, it totally rocks! It seems like everything I google tends to direct me to some awesome recipe or diy project you’ve already done. Thank you!! On the subject of “blue-light blocking,” I know a ton about this stuff. I work in the industry and we manufacture blue-light blockers and have been turned on to the amazing benefits for years. There is so much information and mis-information out there. But research is growing and we are getting better at identifying exactly what is harmful (and why!) It’s all about the nanometers. The wha?? 😉 The measurement on the visible light spectrum where light passing through the lens of your eye becomes physically harmful to your retina. (The retina is your projection monitor in the back of your eye.) They’ve actually mapped the most damaging HEV light out to 411nm. Vision Council, Harvard, and Mayo Clinic may not exactly agree on 411nm. However, it is widely accepted that 400-420nm are THE WORST, most harmful, HEV (high energy visible) light rays. These are the ones emitted from computers, tablets, cell phones, LED lights, those horrid flickering florescent lights in your office and your child’s school ! However, NOT ALL blue light is bad for you. Once you get above 450 or 460nm, it’s all good stuff! Seriously, you think blue skies are bad for you?? You need this light. This helps you stay alert during daylight hours, it helps your metabolism, your body needs this blue light in order to keep circadian rhythm in sync. The problem with orange filters is that you are blocking out all the blue light, not just the harmful stuff. So, while you may be enjoying a peaceful night’s rest finally, you’ve changed the perception of your world to look orange and weird, plus you’ve eliminated not only healthy blue light, but other fantastic colors too! Switch to a pair of “Cocoons Purify lenses” and reap the benefits of a high quality HEV light blockers without the orange haze. 🙂 Trust me, it’s good stuff. I am wearing mine right now. And so are my colleagues!

  16. Kevin Michaels Avatar
    Kevin Michaels

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve been wearing Gunnar glasses for the last few years, but thought they looked kinda dorky :). However, after taking a look at the one’s you’ve upgraded to on Amazon by Swanwick Sleep I thought they looked pretty cool.

    So, because of both your article and reading reviews I decided to pick up a pair of them today.

    Thanks again Wellness Mama! You rock.

  17. Sam Avatar

    My mom works night shifts at a supermarket that is open 24 hours. Would anyone please recommend anything to remedy damaging effects of very bright lights all night?

    I looked at the glasses, they are effective, but also attract too much (unwanted) attention and could potentially be not allowed. Are there any eyeglasses that look like normal once, but block the blue/green light ? Any other things that could be beneficial to my mom?
    Thank you

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