Artificial light and circadian rhythms: blocking the blues

Check out the above image of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum. Different biohacking eyewear have different purposes, and it largely depends where on the EM spectrum they act.

If you stare at a computer screen (or iPad, smart phone, etc., etc.) all day, the specialized glasses you may want to look into block out light just south of the visible light wavelengths. These will help with eye strain, headaches, etc. You could use bona fide blue blockers for this, as they block blue and everything south, although it’d be overkill and probably annoying due to visual disturbance. Pixels and Gunnars are good for this, but they’re not especially great at blocking blue light (with the possible exception of the amber-tinted Gunnars).

Warning: there’s an article floating around on the internet saying it’s useless to block blue light because those computer glasses don’t preserve melatonin secretion. This is a STRAWMAN. Computer glasses aren’t designed to block blue light.
The truth: it’s still important to block blue light at night. If you get eye strain or headaches staring at a computer screen, than computer glasses may be appropriate.

Blocking blue light at night is key for proper melatonin secretion, sleep quality, and preservation of circadian rhythms.

Most smart devices emit LED light which has a particular spike in the blue range:

If you need light at night: moonlight or candles or a bonfire > amber or red-tinted bulbs  > low watt incandescent bulbs. They should be positioned below eye level as light entering the eyes from above more effectively suppresses melatonin than light from below (with the exception of moonlight LOL) (Glickman et al., 2003).

Amber lenses to block blue light and improve sleep: a randomized trial (Burkhart and Phelps, 2009)

Wearing blue light-blocking glasses in the evening advances circadian rhythms in the patients with delayed sleep phase disorder: an open-label trial (Esaki et al., 2016)

Uvex SkypersGunnarsCarbonshades (probably the most effective blue-blockers available) … Solar ShieldsBLUblox  (less expensive and pretty cool-looking, too) …  Spectra479 

Spectra479 and Carbonshade are offering a 15% discount with the coupon code LAGAKOS! 

Circadian misalignment augments markers of insulin resistance and inflammation independently of sleep loss (Leproult et al., 2014)

Interestingly, Gunnars were shown to improve postconcussion symptoms in 2 case studies (Lynch et al., 2015).

[these are Gunnar’s clear-lensed computer glasses, not their amber-tinted blue-blocking glasses (which may block up to 65% of blue light)]

Blue light at night suppresses melatonin secretion, messes up your sleep quality, and induces circadian arrhythmia. This is why using any artificial light emitting devices after sunset is ‘no bueno.’ Software like F.Lux can help, but should also be combined with real blue blockers.

Artificial light at night can also do this (Cheung et al., 2016):

And this:

“Real blue blockers” are going to have amber or red lenses. There’s really no way around this. Some companies with clear or only modestly amber-tinted lenses may claim to block blue, but it’s not enough. Regular sunglasses don’t. Actually, in some studies regular sunglasses are used in the control group and they don’t block blue light, leading to suppression of melatonin.

For example, top graph is regular sunglasses: note the marked suppression in melatonin on the experimental night whereas in the bottom graph no suppression because they were wearing these Solar Shields (Sasseville et al., 2006):

The most tried and true blue blockers, imo, are Uvex Skypers. There are others that may be effective, but these are one of the only ones that have been clinically tested multiple times and proven effective at preventing melatonin suppression. Carbonshades are a bit pricier but look cooler and are probably very effective because they’re red as opposed to amber (blocking 99.8% of blue light compared to 98% by Skypers and 65% of Gunnars amber-tinted lenses). BLUblox are also cooler looking, with amber lenses, so probably block more blue than Gunnars but less than Carbonshades. As people are becoming more aware of the utmost importance of circadian rhythms, more options are becoming available: eg, Spectra479 (cool-looking and less expensive).

Sasseville and colleagues showed Skypers actually improved sleep quality (which is what really matters).

Is ADHD really a sleep problem?

There are regular sunglasses, computer glasses, and bona fide blue blockers. Blue blockers have amber or red lenses and technically could be used as computer glasses and sunglasses. But sunglasses and computer glasses don’t block blue light.

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