Why Wearing Orange Sunglasses At Night Helps You Fall Asleep

Why orange and not blue? Sounds strange, huh?! 

Why Wearing Orange Sunglasses At Night Helps You Fall Asleep

The Problem with Blue Light…

Why Wearing Orange Sunglasses At Night Helps You Fall Asleep

There is a lot of research showing that blue light after sunset can disrupt circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin production but recent studies are showing that this has even more serious consequences.

Think about it, until the invention of electric light bulbs, people relied on the sun for the majority of their light and used only natural sources like candles, campfires and lanterns after dark (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.

Electricity brought many benefits, but it also gave us the ability to mess with our circadian rhythm and our sleep cycles.

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 but more recent research shows that even recreational exposure to blue light for a few hours at night can 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. There is even evidence linking this disruption of the sleep cycle to higher rates of heart disease, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems.

According to Harvard Medical School,

Study after study has linked working the night shift and exposure to light at night to several types of cancer (breast, prostate), 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.”

Shift workers and those up after 11PM seem to be especially at risk for the negative effects of blue light, but the research is showing that any of us who are up after dark looking at sources of blue light (smartphones, televisions, computer, etc) are at risk. Since my work day begins when my kids go to bed at 8, avoiding these things was not an option so I looked for another solution.

Orange to Block the Blue…

Why Wearing Orange Sunglasses At Night Helps You Fall Asleep

Turns out, there is a simple way to reduce most of the blue light we see at night, and that is, the ORANGE sunglasses.

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 and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).

Why Wearing Orange Sunglasses At Night Helps You Fall Asleep

In another study of blue light, researchers at the University of Toronto compared the melatonin levels of people exposed to bright indoor light who were wearing blue-light–blocking goggles to people exposed to regular dim light without wearing goggles. The fact that the levels of the hormone were about the same in the two groups 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.”

It is important to note that blue light in itself is actually a very good thing and that 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 problem since this light signals the body that it is still daytime (sunlight has a lot of blue light). 

What You Can Do to Avoid Blue Light at Night

  • Limit or avoid TV, computer, phone, etc after dark
  • If that isn’t possible or plausible, use orange sunglasses to help greatly reduce the blue light. 
  • Dim overhead lights or just use lamps with orange bulbs after dark. Our favorite way to do this is by using salt lamps to light your house at night.
  • Expose yourself to sunlight during the day to help keep your circadian rhythm in check and get some Vitamin D at the same time.


via Harvard Medical School

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