The following is part of an article that describes how wearing orange-colored glasses in the evening help some people get a better night’s sleep….

Most evenings, before watching late-night comedy or reading emails on his phone, Matt Nicoletti puts on a pair of orange-colored glasses that he bought for $8 off the internet.

“My girlfriend thinks I look ridiculous in them,” he said. But Mr. Nicoletti, a 30-year-old hospitality consultant in Denver, insists that the glasses, which can block certain wavelengths of light emitted by electronic screens, make it easier to sleep.

Studies have shown that such light, especially from the blue part of the spectrum, inhibits the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that helps people fall asleep. Options are growing for blocking blue light, though experts caution that few have been adequately tested for effectiveness and the best solution remains avoiding brightly lit electronics at night.

A Swiss study of 13 teenage boys, published in August in The Journal of Adolescent Health, showed that when the boys donned orange-tinted glasses, also known as blue blockers and shown to prevent melatonin suppression, in the evening for a week, they felt “significantly more sleepy” than when they wore clear glasses. The boys looked at their screens, as teenagers tend to do, for at least a few hours on average before going to bed, and were monitored in the lab.

Devices such as smartphones and tablets are often illuminated by light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, that tend to emit more blue light than incandescent products. Televisions with LED backlighting are another source of blue light, though because they are typically viewed from much farther away than small screens like phones, they may have less of an effect, said Debra Sklene, a professor of neuroendocrinology at the University of Surrey in England.

But orange glasses are not a panacea, Dr. Skene said. “It isn’t just get rid of the blue and everything’s fine,” she said. The intensity of light, in addition to color, can affect sleep, she said, and not all brands of orange-tinted glasses have undergone enough independent testing for their ability to aid sleep.

During the daytime, experts say, exposure to blue light is good. Best of all is sunlight, which contains many different wavelengths of light. “That’s what our brain knows,” said Kenneth P. Wright Jr., director of the sleep and chronobiology lab at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

A 2013 study he led, published in the journal Current Biology showed just how different things can be without nighttime lights: After participants had camped in the mountains for a week, their bodies began to prepare for sleep about 2 hours earlier than normal.

Short of cutting out all evening electronics, experts say, it’s advisable to use a small screen rather than a large one: dim the screen and keep it as far away from the eyes as possible; and reduce the amount of time spent reading the device.

“If you can look at the iPhone for 10 minutes rather than 3 hours, that makes a lot of difference,” Dr. Skene said.

nytimeshealth.com
April 7, 2015

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