Were You Supposed to Be Wearing Sunglasses Before Bed This Whole Time?

Yes, but don't go looking for your favorite summer shades just yet.

Can Wearing Sunglasses Before You Go to Bed Help You Sleep Better?iStock/Gilmanshin

Does your typical night include reading a book on your tablet, watching a late night television show, or answering a few emails before falling asleep? If you answered yes to any of these, you could be harming your quality of sleep. Why? Two words: Blue light.

“Blue light has a very similar wavelength to sunlight,” says Anne Bartolucci, PhD at Atlanta Insomnia and Behavioral Health Services. “It’s very stimulating for the brain.” The wavelength of blue light falls between 420 and 480 nanometers. When we expose ourselves to blue light before we go to bed, it suppresses melatonin production, which can mess up our natural circadian rhythm and keep us from falling asleep and staying asleep throughout the night. Read these tips from sleep doctors to get a better night’s sleep without drugs.

Common items that emit blue light are the backlight screens of smartphones, tablets, computers, and televisions. Other items, that people don’t tend to think about, are alarm clocks and night lights. While these give off a much smaller amount of blue light, it’s still something to consider removing from your room to improve your sleep.

Dr. Bartolucci recommends one hour of screen-free time before going to bed. But for those whose lifestyles require you to be on your phone or computer all the time, she recommends blue light sunglasses. Blue light sunglasses can be worn on their own or over your glasses. They look like sunglasses but with orange or yellow lenses. They work to filter out the blue light signal that your screen is giving off.

Blue light sunglasses can range anywhere from $10 to $80. Dr. Bartolucci says not to spend a lot of money on them since the less expensive ones work just as well. The pair she uses in her office for patients to test, for instance, was about $20.

Unfortunately, wearing regular sunglasses won’t have the same benefits as wearing blue light sunglasses. Dr. Bartolucci says that if your sunglass lenses have an amber or yellow tint they may help a little, but they won’t be as effective as blue light sunglasses. Similarly, turning down the brightness on your phone or turning on night mode doesn’t work as well as blue light sunglasses. This dims the amplitude of the light but doesn’t change the wavelength.

Sure, blue light sunglasses aren’t the most attractive accessories, but if your busy lifestyle doesn’t allow you to put down your devices before bed, the shades are your best bet for sweet slumber.  For extra pointers, try these other tips to get the best sleep ever.

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.