I Wore Amber Glasses Every Night For A Week, Here’s How It Changed My Sleep
I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t done a good job of prioritizing my sleep. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, it seems, to get everything done and still have some quality Netflix time to unwind. Often I’ll have my eyes glued to my computer, TV, or smartphone until 11 p.m. or later—so it’s no surprise I feel like a groggy, unmotivated mess come morning.
But recently, I had a conversation with women’s health and hormone expert Jolene Brighten, N.M.D., which was sort of a wakeup call. We were chatting about her go-to wellness products, and she went on an amazingly insightful 10-minute monologue about the importance of sleep (particularly for our hormones!) and the tool she relies on to get high-quality shut-eye despite the countless sleep saboteurs of our modern world: amber glasses.
The benefits of amber glasses for sleep and health.
The whole sleep-wake cycle is simple: Light makes us feel awake, and darkness makes us sleepy. The problem: Many of us are bombarding ourselves with light right up until we go to bed. There’s no transition period. But amber glasses, which block the damaging blue light emitted from many of our tech devices, can help.
While you still need to prioritize how much sleep you get by turning in earlier, amber glasses may be able to help you get to sleep faster by helping regulate our hormones. “I love my amber glasses. They help raise melatonin levels and bring down cortisol levels at night,” says Brighten. “I recommend that just about everyone has a pair, because we're so inundated with light pollution, which has an impact on our hormones, sleep cycle, and menstrual cycle.”
Melatonin, known as the sleep hormone, is released when it gets dark out and helps regulate other hormones as well as our circadian rhythms—that "internal" clock we all have that determines when we fall asleep and wake. But on top of being great for sleep, melatonin is also an antioxidant and protects the brain and ovaries. In fact, Brighten says some studies have shown that messing with the light-dark cycle in women can delay or stop ovulation. What’s more, women who are night shift workers (and chronically exposed to blue light during what would normally be restful hours) tend to have lower melatonin levels and an increased risk of breast cancer. Researchers are also beginning to wonder if this could impact fertility.
Unlike blue light filtering apps you can use on your phone or computer, amber glasses help shield our eyes from blue light from all sources, including our overhead lights—making them the most efficient way to protect yourself. “I wear them—and recommend that other people wear them—with the natural light-dark cycle of the planet,” says Brighten. “So, as soon as it starts getting dark, go ahead and put them on until you get into bed.”
So, what happened when I tried them out?
Needless to say, I was sold on amber glasses after my conversation with Dr. Brighten. So I ordered up a pair and decided to give them a try for a week to see what happened (Amazon has a bunch of options—some that resemble regular glasses and clip-on versions you can use with your existing glasses).
I’m always pretty exhausted when I get to bed, but I don’t always pass out immediately. Sometimes I feel jittery and wired for up to an hour before I can slip off to dreamland. And, without fail, I always struggle to wake up in the morning—often hitting snooze on my 5:30 a.m. alarm at least three times before my boyfriend elbow jabs me into a state of true wakefulness.
At first I was nervous that a week might not be enough time to notice any sort of difference, but I quickly realized that wasn’t the case. Even on the first night, I noticed that my eyes felt more relaxed when I was working late on my laptop; and I definitely felt a bit calmer when I got into bed. Maybe it was partially a placebo effect, but that’s fine too. After wearing the glasses a few evenings in a row, I also noticed that waking up in the mornings felt easier (notice I said easier, not easy). One morning I didn’t even have to hit snooze!
Some holistic optometrists I’ve spoken with have even said that amber glasses can help combat dry eyes that result from excessive screen time—I’m excited to see if that’s the case with continued use.
I’ll be the first to admit, these are not stylish, and looking at the world through orange-colored glasses is initially a little weird, but I couldn’t deny the benefits. They’re a minimal-effort way to make my sometimes-high-stress life feel a little less frazzled.
Your Best Sleep Ever.
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Stephanie Eckelkamp is a writer and editor who has been working for leading health publications for the past 10 years. She received her B.S. in journalism from Syracuse University with a minor in nutrition. In addition to contributing to mindbodygreen, she has written for Women's Health, Prevention, and Health. She is also a certified holistic health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She has a passion for natural, toxin-free living, particularly when it comes to managing issues like anxiety and chronic Lyme disease (read about how she personally overcame Lyme disease here).