What is blue light? It’s not a new phenomenon, although there has been an increasing concern about its effect on how we sleep. We’re exposed to blue light wavelengths every time there’s a sunny day and anytime we use a mobile device. Blue light occurs naturally in the visible light spectrum of the sun. It has a smaller wavelength and higher energy than other colors. When absorbed during daylight hours, it syncs up with the body’s circadian rhythm and provides an increase in alertness and cognitive function.
But too much exposure to this type of bright light can be harmful. Why is blue light bad? It can be disruptive to a healthy sleep pattern, which could lead to numerous disorders such as sleep deficiency and insomnia. This is due to how blue light suppresses melatonin from being produced. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. Levels of it start to increase in the evening after the sun goes down and is steadily maintained throughout the night to promote deeper sleep. When there’s too much of it, it can trick the mind into thinking it's time to stay awake.
Additionally, by staring at a screen for hours on end on a daily basis, prolonged exposure to blue light waves can be harmful on the eyes. This may result in dryness and redness, headaches, sore neck and shoulders, blurred vision, and eye fatigue. Even if you don’t spend ample time watching TV or working on the computer, it’s likely that you have your smartphone, which is emitting blue light, in hand or nearby. In fact, according to Pew Research, approximately one in five American adults use smartphones as their primary online access. And research shows that 71 percent of people fall asleep holding their smartphone or have it in bed with them.
Our reliance on smartphones is causing disruptions in how people sleep. The long-term effects that blue light waves can have on a person's eye health and sleep cycle goes to show how important it is to protect your eyes. As an answer to the blue light problem that comes with overexposure to digital devices, people can now wear glasses with a blue light filter to block it. Wearing them helps to improve circadian rhythm and sleep cycle, alleviate eye strain, and make you aware of how much screen time you’re clocking and adjust your habits accordingly.
Wearing blue light glasses and reducing screen time are both conducive to better sleep health. Blue Wave Glasses block 60% of blue light, which promotes melatonin production and prevents you from the blue light effect on sleep. Staring at a screen for a prolonged period of time during the day may be unavoidable due to work, but there are ways to decrease use in the evening.
Replace online use with exercise, meditation, or in-person activities instead. Also, eliminate screen time use at least an hour before bed to help you fall asleep quickly. Without the heavy exposure of bright light, your body’s natural functions can kick in and prepare you for sleep.
Decreasing the amount of blue light your eyes absorb and lowering screen brightness may alleviate eye strain. The longer you are in front of a screen, the more you experience eye fatigue and dryness. It’s normal to automatically lean forward or extend your neck to get closer to the screen in an effort to see. Eye strain and prolonged digital use affects both the neck and shoulder muscles.
“Text neck” is a term that’s been used for the stress and pain caused from using mobile devices over a long period of time, since most people look down when using a smartphone. For people who use a desktop regularly, there’s a risk of tension in the neck, unless the desk is ergonomically adjusted. To alleviate soreness, the monitor must be set at an arm’s length away and the desk chair height should be adjusted so the knees and hips are aligned.
One of the advantages of blue-light blocking glasses is that it provides a built-in solution whether you’re looking at your own computer, watching TV, or any other situation that involves a screen where limiting blue light and brightness levels is necessary.
The average person spends 11 hours a day looking at some type of screen, according to Scripps Clinic research. By wearing blue light filter lenses every time you look at a screen, you’ll have greater awareness of the hours you’re spending looking at a monitor or picking up your phone. This can be a motivating factor to limit how much reliance you have on your mobile devices. Make small adjustments to your screen use and give yourself a chance to truly unplug.
Reduce screen time by setting aside your smartphone or laptop in the evening whenever possible. It’s especially important to remove them from the bedroom altogether, as to not interfere with melatonin levels and a natural circadian cycle. Notifications cause the screen to light up during the night and inhibits solid sleep patterns. Plus, it can be all too easy to grab your phone and mindlessly scroll through different apps. If you already experience having trouble falling asleep right away, this light exposure further throws off your body’s natural rhythm.
Of all the benefits of blue light blocking glasses, the most useful is how they help with sleep. Since our bodies are accustomed to blue light during the day, when exposed to it at night, it changes our internal clock and makes it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Avoiding screen time is possible, even if eliminating it altogether seems unavoidable.
Advanced technology is causing us to use our phones and computers for greater stretches of time than ever before. Statistics show that the number of smartphone users worldwide has incrementally increased since 2016 from 2.5 billion users to an estimated 3.8 billion by 2021. When faced with the digital habits of the average person in the modern age, blue light lenses reduces much of the strain on the retina and promotes sleep hygiene.
A sleep study conducted by the University of Toledo in Ohio tested the positive effects of using blue-blocking safety glasses. Upon completion of a one-week baseline assessment and a two-week use of glasses, participants experienced significant improvement in sleep quality and mood.
There’s no single recommended amount of time to wear blue light glasses to make them effective. To protect your eyes, it’s best to wear them when you’ll be looking at a screen for several hours at a time and at night, when exposure to blue light should be reduced significantly. Worn as a preventative measure,blue light glasses can lead to increased focus, less fatigue, and consistent sleep on a regular basis.
If you’re trying them out for the first time, start by wearing them for an hour and see how they feel. Do you notice a difference in your posture or how your eyes feel? Are you able to wind down at night? As you get used to wearing the light filter glasses, it’ll become second nature to slip them on when you know you have a dedicated chunk of time when your eyes will be on a screen. Monitor your sleep habits before and after use to measure their effectiveness.
Blue light comes from the sun as well as the screen, which means that too much time spent with either can be harmful. Prolonged exposure to UV light radiation is damaging to the eyes. Monitor how much time is spent in the sun and always wear sunglasses with UV protection. When your battling blue light emissions from constant staring at screens, give your eyes regular breaks, in addition to wearing blue light glasses.
Look away from the screen for 20 seconds every 20 minutes at an object at least 20 feet away from you. This 20-20-20 rule reduces eye tension and dryness. Reduce the screen’s brightness and glare by adjusting the settings and using a screen filter, when necessary. As you sit in meetings at work or take a break for lunch, resist the temptation to bring your laptop or smartphone with you. Every period of time without blue light exposure provides you a better chance to sleep well.
Sources: https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/fact-sheet/mobile/; https://www.sleep.org/articles/is-your-smartphone-ruining-your-sleep/; https://www.scripps.org/news_items/6626-how-much-screen-time-is-too-much; https://www.statista.com/statistics/330695/number-of-smartphone-users-worldwide/; https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/office-ergonomics/art-20046169; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20030543;