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The 3 Benefits of Blue Light Blocking Glasses

by Dale Cudmore | Updated: Feb 17, 2022

Blue light glasses have only been getting more popular lately.

While you can use software to reduce the blue light emitted by screen, glasses are the only solution to filter out blue light completely (or very close) from any source of blue light you’re looking at (e.g. screens, LED light bulbs).

Let’s take a quick look at both the benefits and any potential side effects of blue light glasses.

The Potential Benefits of Blue Light Blocking Glasses

Blue light suppresses melatonin production, which is one of the most important hormones to make you feel sleepy and actually fall asleep.

Ultimately, the main benefit of blue light blocking glasses is to let you use devices like computers and TVs right before bed while still being able to produce melatonin at optimal rates.

If you’d like a recommendation, see our review of the best blue light glasses.

Blue Light Glasses Can Make it Easier to Fall Asleep

Not all sleep issues are caused by a lack of melatonin, since many people produce more than is needed to fall asleep, so a reduction from blue light isn’t necessarily a problem.

However, some people do get symptoms of insomnia from blue light, and blocking most of it at night can help them fall asleep much faster.

Most research supports this.

One 3 week study compared the use of blue light blocking glasses with plain UV glasses (a control group that shouldn’t affect sleep) by wearing them for 3 hours before going to sleep. They found that (1):

At the end of the study, the amber lens (blue light blocking) group experienced significant improvement in sleep quality relative to the control group. Mood also improved significantly relative to controls.

It’s important to note that blue light glasses with orange (amber) filter out 90%+ of blue light frequencies, while yellow-tinted or clear lenses filter out significantly less.

Another study tested wearing the glasses for 2 hours before going to sleep for a week and found similar improvements (2):

Total sleep time increased by about 15% in the blue light blocking group.

There are several other studies that have found similar improvements. At the same time, I’ve yet to come across any research that showed that blue light glasses had a negative effect on sleep, so it’s a safe thing to try in almost all cases.

SummaryResearch shows that wearing blue light glasses at night makes it easier to fall asleep for many people who are exposed to significant amounts of blue light from screens or other sources of lighting.

Blue Light Glasses MAY Reduce Eye Strain and Stress

This one is controversial.

Some people are adamant that blue light glasses reduce their eye strain, while research is very mixed on the topic.

Fundamentally, our body responds to blue-wavelength light with increased blood pressure and arousal (stress and anxiety) (3). In theory, good blue light glasses will reduce stress, which some people may notice more than others.

Additionally, some research has shown that blue light glasses can reduce eye fatigue while exposed to light for extended periods (4)

The higher the blocking effect of the lens, the lower the reduction in the CFF, suggesting that blocking short-wavelength light can reduce eye fatigue.

There isn’t too much other research on this specific topic, so it may be a small effect size, or only apply in certain situations (i.e. staring directly at a light source for a long time).

On the other hand, some research has shown that blue light glasses don’t significantly reduce eye strain.

One 2020 study compared the use of blue light glasses or a control lens while reading for 20 minutes from a tablet (5). Overall, they found:

There is little evidence at this time to support the use of blue-blocking filters as a clinical treatment for digital eye strain

So the glasses may have some effect for some people, but likely not enough to make a big difference for most people.

Alternatively, the reduction in eye fatigue from wearing glasses may simply be from reflecting some light (i.e. the screen was too bright).

SummarySome people may experience a benefit of reduced eye fatigue from wearing blue light glasses, but research is inconclusive on whether or not this is a clear effect.

State-Dependent Memory May Make It Even Easier to Get to Sleep

One other potential benefit of wearing the glasses at night before sleeping is that you can essentially train yourself to get ready to sleep.

People are creatures of habit, and state-dependent memory describes a phenomenon where we associate memories and even emotions with certain states (e.g. environments, objects) (6).

So if you do something like put on a particular set of glasses at a certain time each night before going to bed, your brain will start to link wearing those glasses with sleeping.

SummaryEven though research shows short-term benefits on sleep quality of wearing blue light glasses, there may also be long-term benefits from developing the habit of wearing them before sleeping.

Are There Any Cons or Side Effects of Blue Light Glasses?

As noted before, there are no obvious risks of wearing blue light glasses that have been published, making them a safe “treatment” option for most people.

An alternative would be to take melatonin supplements at night to get to sleep easier, which is also proven to work, but there is some potential for side effects.

The only real side effects or risks of wearing blue light glasses are:

  • Can cause headaches in some - This is typically due to buying glasses that are too small and cause extra pressure around the ears. This is a potential side effect of any glasses in general.
  • Don’t block light from peripheral sources - Other than certain blue light glasses, most still let in light from the sides or tops of the glasses. Some blue light from overhead or surrounding lighting can still potentially enter your eyes.
  • You have to remember them - While it doesn’t take much effort, you still need to remember to put blue light glasses on every night. Other potential solutions in certain cases like reducing blue light on a iPhone with software don’t involve having to remember to do anything.

One final note is that there might be some minor negative effects if you wear blue light glasses during the day all the time, although that's a rare situation.

References

  1. Amber Lenses to Block Blue Light and Improve Sleep
  2. Blocking nocturnal blue light for insomnia: A randomized controlled trial
  3. A behavioral intervention for insomnia improves blood pressure
  4. Effect of Blue Light–Reducing Eye Glasses on Critical Flicker Frequency
  5. A double-blind test of blue-blocking filters on symptoms of digital eye strain
  6. State-Dependent Memory

Medical Disclaimer: The information on SnoozeUniversity.com is not intended to be a substitute for physician or other qualified care. We simply aim to inform people struggling with sleep issues about the nature of their condition and/or prescribed treatment.


About the authorDale is the founder of Snooze University and a sleep researcher. I overcame my sleep issues and now I'd like to help you do the same by summarizing the latest sleep studies for you.