Updated: March 1st, 2021
This might be the single most important tip I could give all of my patients. Read on to learn more.
An estimated 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and other chronic sleep conditions. Packed schedules filled with multi-tasking, countless hours of exposure to electronic devices and ongoing stress can translate to difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep.
I agree with Chris Kresser in his book Unconventional Medicine that the pillars of optimal wellness are nutrition, sleep, stress management, and movement (exercise). If one of those areas is out of alignment, then the foundation of health and well-being can crack more easily.
We’ve all experienced a poor night of sleep and felt fatigued, lack of concentration, and irritability from it during the next day. While one night of poor sleep can wreak short-term havoc chronic sleep loss is associated with an increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, and stroke. This is why everyone must focus on getting high-quality sleep every night and try to normalize their circadian rhythm as much as possible.
In order to help regulate your sleep-wake cycle, I recommend wearing blue light filter glasses at night to assist with sleep and using a light therapy lamp in the morning to enhance energy.
Blue Light Filter Glasses
It was after attending a lecture on circadian rhythms I realized how blue light filter glasses could help improve sleep. After the lecture, I decided to try a pair for myself. They worked great and I want to spread the good news.
As a reminder, our circadian rhythm is the internal 24-hour clock that cycles through our feelings of alertness or drowsiness. While this master clock is influenced by exercise and social activity it is most impacted by light and darkness. A balanced circadian rhythm can promote a consistent sleep-wake cycle and restorative sleep, and when it is misaligned it can lead to sleep disturbances and lower-quality sleep.
At night, we can disrupt our body’s natural sleep-wake cycles by exposing ourselves to sources of blue light including artificial light, digital devices, and natural sunlight. When it gets dark, your body naturally begins to secrete the hormone melatonin to soothe the body and prime it for bedtime. Blue light disrupts this natural cycle as it inhibits melatonin production and confuses the body into remaining alert when it should be winding down.
It’s worth noting that not all blue light is bad. In fact, the sun is an excellent source of blue light that serves to keep you alert during the day. So, the question becomes: how do you keep your body’s circadian rhythm in check in our modern age?
Blue light filter glasses are one of the most effective ways to keep your sleep-wake cycle on track. The notion is, ideally, we should go to bed when the sun goes down and get up when the sun rises. The artificial light we’re exposed to at night inhibits the release of melatonin from the pineal gland. The problem is compounded by the use of our televisions, computers, and phones imitating the stimulating effects of the sun.
The solution is to wear your blue light filter glasses when the sun sets or an hour or two before retiring. Take them off when you go to sleep. After all, adequate sleep is one of the pillars of optimal health.
The Blue Light Filter Glasses Brand We Recommend
Myself and many of our patients have found success with the Spectra479 brand. It works well and is reasonably priced. You can purchase clips for your prescription glasses or you can buy stand-alone glasses if you do not wear glasses normally. Give it a few minutes when you first put them on for your eyes to adjust.
It is important to realize that you can have blue light filter lenses put in your prescription glasses. However, this blocks some blue light that is emitted from your screens and does not block the entire blue light spectrum.
On a personal note, I started sleeping better the first night I wore the glasses. Interestingly if I take supplemental melatonin it often causes vivid nightmares (a well-known side effect). No problem when I wear the glasses even though they both raise melatonin levels.
Also of note is the fact that melatonin helps tighten the lower esophageal sphincter which is the one-way valve between the esophagus and stomach which when not working correctly causes heartburn at night. Melatonin has also recently been shown to mitigate the symptoms of Covid 19.
Receive 15% off when you order online. We have an affiliate program with Spectra479 to offer you this discount. Enter affiliate code: CAREGROUP.
HappyLight in The Morning
While I recommend using blue light filter glasses and limiting screen time at night to help stimulate melatonin production and promote sleep, bright light exposure in the daytime is also an essential part of the circadian rhythm. Light early in the day stimulates the production of the happiness neurotransmitter serotonin and in essence help you wake up. In the winter and when access to natural light is not available Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or the winter blues may set in.
Light Therapy lamps like the HappyLight may be used to mimic sunlight and help regulate your circadian rhythm. HappyLight provides a healthy dose of bright full-spectrum light (10,000 lux). This recommended amount of light intensity has been shown to help enhance mood, energy, sleep, and focus. Positive effects may be seen in as little as two weeks. The light will come with detailed instructions on how to use it properly
In addition to using blue light filter glasses at night and a light therapy lamp in the morning, a routine sleep schedule, reducing stress levels, regular exercise, and eating balanced meals can help improve quality sleep and overall health.
Trust me, get a pair of glasses and the HappyLight and you might find this a game-changer as you try to mimic your circadian rhythm. You might think this is an expensive investment. The fact of the matter is you can purchase both for under $80. Great gift idea for a loved one!
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About The Care Group: We promote optimal wellness by providing an individualized, functional medicine approach to address root causes rather than simply treating symptoms. We help patients with a wide range of issues including autoimmune/ inflammatory disease, digestive disorders, hormone imbalances, and mood disorders. To learn more about our practice, click here.
About the Author: Dr. Gerard Guillory, MD is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and has published two books on Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). In 1985, he opened The Care Group, PC. Today, his clinic is a Primary Care facility that is a hybrid of functional and traditional medicine treating patients with digestive disorders, autoimmune disease, and other conditions. You can learn more about Dr. Guillory here.