On Nights When I Need To Use My Computer, These Glasses Help Me Sleep
Try as I might to stay off electronics at night for the sake of my sleep, it's not always possible. Time-sensitive emails, texts, and writing assignments have a way of sneaking into my screen-free evenings, and once I'm on my phone or computer, I find it really difficult to get off it.
Here's how it usually goes: I'll log online with the intention of just doing one five-minute task before switching over to a relaxing book or journal. An hour later, I'm flying high on a second wind and don't feel tired at all—even though it's officially past my bedtime. This is especially common during busy periods when I have a lot going on at work. Then, the combination of screen time and stress makes it really difficult to fall asleep—which then, of course, only stresses me out more.
As I was coming off one particularly rough bout of this vicious cycle, the team at TrueDark Eyewear reached out asking if I'd try the king of all blue-light blockers, their Twilights Classics. Needless to say, I responded with my address right away (probably post 11 p.m.).
Why blue-light blockers?
Part of the reason sleep specialists recommend staying off electronics at night is that they give off stimulating wavelengths of light, including blue light. These are the same wavelengths emitted by the sun, so our eyes can mistake them for daylight. In turn, this light can suppress the body's natural production of melatonin1 (also known as "the hormone of darkness") and make us feel more awake—even during times when we really should be sleeping.
That's where the Twilights come in. These glasses are designed to be worn 30 minutes to 2 hours before bed, and they block out 100% of blue light. They don't stop there, though. Their dark red frames are also designed to block all the green and violet light that may find our eyes, too; wavelengths that can be stimulating in the same way that blue light is. They also come with a thick black barrier that blocks any light that may sneak in from above or below the frames.
The result is a funny-looking pair of glasses that are designed to be really effective at supporting melatonin production and regulating the circadian rhythm. Once mine arrived in the mail, along with their carrying case and microfiber cleaning cloth, I popped them on before wrapping up a few things on my computer for the night. My partner laughed at how ridiculous I looked donning the ruby red specs, but it didn't bother me; I was suddenly too tired to care.
My experience with the TrueDark Twilights Classic.
Once I slid on the glasses, everything in sight became a bright shade of red. At first, it was a little jarring to see my apartment covered in crimson, but I got used to it after a few minutes. And as I clicked around on my laptop (also red, of course), it was immediately clear that the glasses were doing their job. My usual jolt of energy was replaced by an overwhelming desire to sleep. I could definitely see why TrueDark doesn't recommend driving or operating machinery with these on. They really do support the body's natural wind-down processes in a way that you can feel immediately.
I built up the energy to brush my teeth and get ready for bed (I could also see how many wearers fall asleep with these on!), and that first night I slept through the entire night without one wake-up that I could remember. The next morning, it was clear that I'd been super exhausted and ready for a night of deep sleep—but my electronics habit had been standing in the way of it.
That was a few weeks ago, and ever since, I've stored my Twilights near my laptop so I always remember to slide them on if I'm using my computer at night. While their effect has not been as overwhelming as that first evening, they still make me feel more tired than I usually would, and they've had a noticeable effect on my sleep quality. One unexpected benefit of these glasses is that by making screens appear red, they make the process of looking at them a bit less enjoyable. This has made it easier for me to actually log offline at a reasonable hour—a positive habit for both my sleep and mental health.
Since improving sleep on nights when I need to use tech is my biggest priority, the Twilights Classics are the TrueDark pair that makes the most sense for me. However, the company also sells a number of other glasses designed to be worn at different times of day to block various disturbing spectrums of light, which the company calls "junk light."
The Twilights Daylights, for example, are yellow lenses that are designed to be worn during the daytime. They darken and lighten to adjust to the sun, blocking excess UVA/UVB rays and blue light throughout the day that can disrupt sleep or cause headaches and eye strain.
The Twilights Sunsets are a hybrid between the Daylight and Twilight glasses, meant to be popped on after the sun goes down but while you're still wrapping up the day's to-do's. Their red-yellow combo lenses make it easier to perform tasks like reading or using your phone while still blocking the majority of wavelengths that can make it harder to fall asleep later.
Each TrueDark option also comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, and a quiz on the company's website will help you find the ideal pair for your face shape. Those who wear prescription lenses can also use accompanying inserts to fit their prescription on the glasses.
Using my computer and phone late at night used to majorly mess with my rest, but the Twilights Classics have helped me stay on top of my inbox without sabotaging my sleep quality. While I still try to minimize my electronic use at night, I feel better knowing that I have these shades waiting for me just in case.
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.
Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.