All Glasses Are Not Created Equal
Blocker Glasses For A Health Boost
The studies are convincing: Blocking out blue light before bedtime helps you sleep better. And sleeping better is linked to colossal health benefits including improved weight management, a healthier immune system, keener memory, lower blood pressure, happier outlook, and lower odds of heart failure.
Blue wavelength light, the kind emitted by computers, TVs, cell phones, and curly compact fluorescent lights, takes a big bite out of our ability to sleep. Exposure to blue light in the evening hours plays havoc on our circadian rhythm function (our body clock), suppressing melatonin levels, and tricking our brains into thinking it’s time to stay awake, not time to sleep. Melatonin is the hormone that makes us sleepy. About one or two hours before your normal bedtime, a small gland in your brain, the pineal gland, begins to produce melatonin. But melatonin is only adequately produced as our day winds down, and light turns to dark.
“Blue light from electronics causes people sleep difficulties even though they might not realize it,” says Dr. Catherine Darley of The Institute of Naturopathic Sleep Medicine.
Over the past few years, blue light blocker glasses have become a popular, inexpensive way to combat blue light for improved sleep. These orange tinted glasses are recommended to be worn 90 minutes before bedtime.
“The benefits of blue light blocking glasses are immense and varied,” says Dr. Joseph Michael Mercola, an alternative medicine proponent and osteopathic physician. “In my view the primary benefit is to prevent damage to the DHA essential fat in your retinal pigmented epithelium, which is responsible for converting sunlight into vital DC electric current your body needs.”
Additionally, Mercola says blue light will increase the distance of the proteins in the respiratory electron transport chain in your mitochondria making them far less efficient in producing mitochondria, the powerhouse of human cells.
What To Look For In Buying Blue Light Blocker Glasses
OK, we know there’s something to this, but how do we decide which blue light blocker glasses to buy given the hundreds of different types on the market that vary in price from $10 to $150? This guide will point you in the right direction:
1. Make Sure They Actually Block Out Lots Of Blue Light – According to James Swanwick, inventor of the Swanwick Sleep Blue Light Blocking Glasses, otherwise known as “Swannies,” if the consumer’s principal aim is to improve their sleep, then lenses must block a large proportion of the blue light wavelength (measured in nanometers) known to suppress melatonin.
“Opticians differ on what that specific melatonin-range is, but generally speaking if the lenses can block most of the blue light between 440 nm and 470 nm, consumers should enjoy sleep benefits,” says Swanwick, who hosts The James Swanwick Show podcast.
2. Choose A Style That Looks Good In Social Situations – Most people don’t mind wearing nerdy-looking blue light blocking glasses when just lounging around the house. But what if you need to go out and then return home to sleep? Swanwick recommends buying a style of blue light blocking glasses that look good and won’t make you uncomfortable to wear at a party or out to dinner.
“I specifically designed Swanny glasses with that in mind,” says Swanwick.
3. Only Buy Orange-colored Lenses – Yes, you can find blue light blocking glasses in colors other than orange. Yellow, brown, and even clear lenses are available. But Mary A. Carskadon, a researcher in sleep-wake behavior at Brown University, does not recommend those.
“Brown or yellow tinted glasses may reduce light transmittance also, but they do not block as much light in the blue wavelength range as orange glasses,” says Carskadon.
4. Brand Names Do Mean Something – Optometrist Chike Mordi, a Houston eye doctor, warns that with blue light blocking glasses, stay away from cheap.
“Brand name is important to ensure that you are receiving the quality and protection these lenses provide,” says Mordi, who also recommends obtaining a manufacturer’s authenticity card from your doctor’s office.
Swanwick said that the lenses in his Swannies have a special anti-reflective coating (also called “AR coating” or “anti-glare coating”) that improves vision and reduces eyestrain by reducing reflections from the front and back surfaces of the lens. This is an unusual feature in blue light blocking glasses as is the material in Swannies, a top quality acetate, which is a natural plastic made from cotton fibers and is renewable and environmentally-friendly.
5. Look For A Blue Reflection – Mordi says there is one especially salient aspect of purchasing blue light blocking glasses that consumers generally don’t about. He recommends looking at the lenses and studying the reflection in natural white light.
“There should be a noticeable blue reflection,” Mordi says. “This reflection is your proof that your eyes really are being protected.”