About 4 months ago I was at home watching this video by my friend Danimal of the RawBrahs when I heard about blue blockers for the first time.
It was Ben Avanzato talking about hacking your sleep by wearing these glasses after sunset in order to prevent blue light from hitting your eyes a.k.a. blocking blue.
I found this intriguing and immediately began thinking that here was something I needed to incorporate into my life.
Especially on days when I’m working a closing shift as I’m in a very bright and artificially lit environment until 1030 or 11pm which is precisely the time I would prefer to be falling asleep. (I like a 10pm to 6am window for sleep in order to feel my best and get a relatively early start to my day)
Now I’ve never had major issues with my sleep, I fall asleep easily, sleep quite soundly, and have no trouble getting back to sleep if I have to wake up to use the bathroom and so it wasn’t so much to solve a sleep issue that I became interested in blocking blue, rather it was after listening to Dr. Jack Kruse who is one of the leading experts on health optimization and bio-hacking talk about the importance of melatonin for circadian health and consequently overall health.
Circadian health and circadian rhythms are what keep our sleeping and waking patterns in sync and allow for a myriad of health benefits when synchronized to our natural environment.
It appears that our brains connect blue light to waking time and reds and oranges to winding down for the day or resting. This makes sense within the context of our evolution because at dawn and dusk the sky tends to have shades of red whereas throughout the day it’s blue.
We also have the accumulated history of being around fires at night time which tend to burn with red, orange, and yellow hues. (This part is just a theory of mine but it seems plausible that generations upon generations of sitting around and staring into fires each night would leave a lasting impact on us and that it wouldn’t have been beneficial for us to begin controlling and creating fire if the light given off by it disrupted our circadian rhythms and weakened our health)
Back to the topic, this blue light stimulates cortisol release which energizes us and gets us going each day and because of the inverse relationship between cortisol and melatonin this increase in cortisol coincides with reduced melatonin as well as changes which may not be beneficial in other hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone, two hormones that you want to ensure you have healthy levels of in order to feel energetic, driven and be able to perform physically whether that be in the gym, on the field, or in the bedroom.
This helps to explain why it is crucially important to limit exposure to artificial blue light after sunset and especially in the 3-4 hours preceding sleep if we are to ensure optimal levels of this powerfully healing hormone.
But it doesn’t stop there, most of us are familiar that melatonin is associated with sleep as it’s often marketed and sold as a natural health product to help with poor sleep and insomnia (for the record I do not recommend supplementing melatonin unless it’s a rare case that’s used to help your body adjust to time zones and recoup from jetlag when travelling, and even in this case you can use things like exercise and grounding to help your body adjust) but few of us (myself included) realize how important it is in triggering a cascade of healing and repair that takes place throughout the night.
According to Dr. Kruse melatonin is the second most potent antioxidant after glutathione in the body and the number one antioxidant for the brain.
The benefits of Melatonin are huge and extend beyond the scope of this post, however here are two of the most profound effects which are elaborated on in this article.
- Neuroprotective Effects: This means it protects your brain and nervous system from damage and can help to prevent neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.I don’t know about you but I refuse to be one of the growing number of folks who grow old and end up living in a perpetual state of delusion, frustration and forgetting because their brains are broken. This happened to my Grandmother and it was very hard to watch as she gradually lost function and had to be moved into a care center.
- Preventing and Counteracting Cancer: Because of its potent antioxidant potential and ability to diffuse into every cell of the body it’s great for mopping up free radicals and reducing inflammation.Again I don’t think I have to convince anyone how terrible cancer is and the impact it is having on all of our lives. I witnessed cancer, and even more-so the conventional treatment of cancer lead to my uncle’s untimely demise, as well as my Mom choosing to go through surgery, radiation and chemo for breast cancer. She made it through and is now an advocate / example of healthy living in her own right but still it was an extremely stressful and difficult time for us.
Now I don’t know about you but I want to make sure that my lifestyle and environment are tailored to maximize my levels of what are extremely valuable and potent hormones so that I don’t ever have to experience these chronic degenerative disease states.
And now for the good news about what you can do right now to take the necccessary steps in order to reduce blue light exposure and protect your melatonin levels.
1. Get a pair of blue blocker safety glasses. These Uvex Skypers are the ones that I bought 20 pairs of and have been gifting / selling to friends and family over the last couple months.
I have started to wear them at work on closing shifts and gotten lots of compliments and questions from co-workers and customers which have allowed me to share some of this knowledge with them.
I really feel like they make the world look awesome and plus they reduce eye strain when looking at bright lights or using your computer or smartphone.
Since wearing them I’ve noticed that I feel much more sleepy once 10pm hits and that I wake up feeling more refreshed which is a great benefit to me and well worth the potential social akwardness.
I also got myself a pair of These larger sized glasses for wearing over my eye glasses so that after I remove my contacts and am wearing regular glasses I can continue blocking blue.
I mean just look at me, can’t you tell that I feel great! And it’s just my opinion but I think I look pretty fly when rocking them alongside my orange hand-made Guatemalan scarf and Orgonite Pendant. (I’m a hippie at heart, what can I say)
And here we have my awesome parents demoing their blue blockers on Christmas Morning. I’m quite certain they have yet to integrate them into daily use but I’m hopeful they’ll see the light… rather they’ll stop seeing the light – at least blue – sometime soon.
2. Install Screen Dimming Software on your Devices. Another easy step to take which is one I took a few months before investing in the glasses was to install f.lux on my computer and Twilight on my smartphone.
These free and straightforward apps simply use your location and the time of sunset / sunrise and adjust the colours on your screen accordingly so that as the sun sets your screen phases to a warmer, dimmer, display without the blue spectrum and then adjusts back to normal with sunrise.
So there you have it, we covered a bit about the dangers of blue light exposure after dark, why it’s important to protect your melatonin, and two easy action steps for putting this into practice.
So in closing let me leave you with this. If you value your health and want to live an optimized life, then start rocking blue blockers and join the growing number of people who are ready and willing to put their health, performance, and longevity higher up on their list of values. People will look at you weird and ask you about your orange shades and when they do I urge you to embrace the opportunity to spread some knowledge and be an example of someone who stands strong in their commitment to health!
Happy blue blocking,