Blue Light Blocking Glasses: what's the hype?
I spent a week with blue light blocking glasses and compared it to a week without. The results are in: It works!
Blue light has recently been identified as a demon in the shadows of technological innovation. As our lives are every increasingly consumed with devices, researchers have noted that this could be detrimental to our sleep patterns and overall health. Thankfully, glasses that filter out the blue light are becoming very popular and I've put a few "highly rated" pairs to the test.
The Bro Science
“The differences are only noticed over a period of time and only in the days following a period of time wearing the glasses.”
Research shows that blue light inhibits the production of melatonin, the hormone that allows us to fall asleep. In fact, it goes deeper than this, melatonin production is responsible for our circadian rhythms, or otherwise known as your body's natural clock. Blue light is found in literally all the devices that we use on a daily basis, from television to cellphones, tablets and laptops, and researchers suggest that these are slowly killing us.
“The sleepiness continued for the next week, where wearing the glasses made my eyes heavy and my brain go into shutdown mode. A great success for the blue-blockers, but what about during day time?”
I acquired two pairs from reputable companies (or so they claim) who both have cutting edge technology in their frames (or so they say). I wore the blue-blockers for a week while watching television, working on the computer and playing on my phone at night before I went to bed. My first experience was that I felt absolutely nothing.
After giving it to a few friends to try, they too experienced astonishingly little difference when staring at a screen with or without glasses. "That's not how it works!" proclaimed the owner of one of the test glasses. "The differences are only noticed over a period of time and only in the days after wearing the glasses." Apparently it's not a treatment of some sort, but rather a preventative measure. "It's similar to not curing your headaches with Xylitol, but realizing your headaches are much less frequent when you eliminate sugar from your diet." He explains. Seems simple enough...
Day one of wearing the glasses I fell asleep with them on my face and my phone next to my head. It seemed as though putting them on gave me an instant dose of ambien. "That's the melatonin being produced," Explained the owner in his best version of bro-science. The sleepiness continued for the next week, where wearing the glasses made my eyes heavy and my brain go into shutdown mode. A great success for the blue-blockers, but what about during day time?
Surely I cannot be falling asleep every time I have to put in a productive hour? I did. It seems as though blocking out all types of blue light tells your brain that it's time to go to rest, stimulating a sense of "darkness" and a quick release of melatonin. Not ideal if you're trying to protect your eyes from harmful light while still keeping up your daily tasks. "It's best to wear them only at nights. When the sun goes down, so that your body can fall into the circadian rhythm of the universe."
I decided to do as my owner friend suggested, and although there was little productivity at nights, I fell asleep quicker than I ever have before. The results were truly noticeable. One doesn't notice the amount of background activity in your brain from all the continuous stimulation during the day, until you turn it off. I found that on an average night of TV, cellphone and laptop activity, along with all the lights on in my house, my brain was processing something long after I put my head on the pillow.
The week after I wore them I noticed the biggest difference. I went from tossing and turning for hours, to falling asleep within minutes, to tossing and turning for hours again. There was an unquestionable difference in the way my brain quietened down in the week that I wore the glasses. I specifically say my brain as it wasn't my mind and thoughts that shut up and disappeared, it was the noise. The buzzing and ringing and flashing all stopped, and returned the very night I stopped wearing them. I imagine our brains like a scrambled television set in the Scary Movie film that refuses to turn off. Constant noise, irritation and confusion as we try and switch it off.
“I'm not quite sure what the exact science is behind these changes, or whether or not it's completely my imagination, but I felt about 12 times better on the days that I wore the glasses. ”
I continued the process of one week on and one week off for a month in order to gain a more reliable and valid opinion. Along with falling asleep and shutting off the noise I found that I woke up less groggy, was able to get started much quicker in the mornings and my severe case of morning red-eye went away. the weeks in which I didn't wear them I would have to wear sunglasses during the day as my eyes felt a constant burn. These are things i never realized happen to me before I started this experiment. I'm not quite sure what the exact science is behind these changes, or whether or not it's completely my imagination, but I felt about 12 times better every day that I wore the glasses. The truth is, we should not be playing on our phones and watching TV for hours every night, but since the chance of that changing is about zero, I highly recommend acquiring a pair of blue-light blocking glasses.