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Orange Glasses Vs. Flame?

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  • Orange Glasses Vs. Flame?

    Hmm. I'm reconsidering my bedtime routine, as I've noticed an oddity. In the past I usually tried to go to bed after reading by firelight in order to build up melatonin. Fire supposedly emits little to no blue light, which would otherwise stimulate wakeful hormones.

    However, I've noticed that when I wear orange safety glasses and watch videos on my Kindle Fire I get tired a lot faster and sleep a lot better. On my last day off when I tried reading by firelight I ended staying up super late (2AM), with no signs of melatonin building up, even though I was theoretically exposed to less blue light from the flame than I was from the safety glasses + Kindle Fire.

    It could be because watching videos is a passive activity while reading is mentally stimulating, but could it also be the case that by wearing the safety glasses less blue light is hitting my eyes than from flame? Perhaps the flame is emitting *just* enough blue light to stimulate me?

    Tricky question to tackle. I tried experimenting last night by wearing the glasses and then reading by flame, but the color was too distorted for me to do it comfortably, so I gave up and watched videos, got sufficiently tired, slept, and woke up super early and nicely refreshed.

    This is particularly odd because various nights contrast greatly in prior blue-light exposure. On that day off mentioned, I had been reading by flame for two to three hours to no avail. On the days I watch the videos, I get home from my restaurant job at 1 or 2AM, and need only a half-hour or hour of the glasses to get tired. Plus, I have an easier time waking after a night with the glasses than with the flame.

    What say you? I wish it weren't so, because I hate those glasses, but if it is then I just might resort to wearing them instead. However, could it be possible that the burn material for the flame matters in what light spectrum it will ultimately emit? Right now I'm using a paraffin oil lamp.

  • #2
    I'm impressed that you are taking an active interest in this area. Most who call themselves paleo or primal just focus on the diet and exercise parts.

    As this study shows, Human Nonvisual Responses to Simultaneous Presentation of Blue and Red Monochromatic Light , it is the light specific to the 479 nm wavelength that causes the problems. The only way to answer your question would be to get a wavelength analyzer and measure the light in question, however, they sell glasses designed to specifically block this wavelength of light. Your orange safety glasses may be the perfect color for this, but I'd do some checking.

    If you normally work til 1am, you may consider wearing blue-blocking glasses starting around 7pm.

    Good luck!

    This is the abstract of study I mentioned:

    Blue light sensitivity of melatonin suppression and subjective mood and alertness responses in humans is recognized as being melanopsin based. Observations that long-wavelength (red) light can potentiate responses to subsequent short-wavelength (blue) light have been attributed to the bistable nature of melanopsin whereby it forms stable associations with both 11-cis and all-trans isoforms of retinaldehyde and uses light to transition between these states. The current study examined the effect of concurrent administration of blue and red monochromatic light, as would occur in real-world white light, on acute melatonin suppression and subjective mood and alertness responses in humans. Young healthy men (18-35 years; n = 21) were studied in highly controlled laboratory sessions that included an individually timed 30-min light stimulus of blue (λmax 479 nm) or red (λmax 627 nm) monochromatic light at varying intensities (1013-1014 photons/cm2/sec) presented, either alone or in combination, in a within-subject randomized design. Plasma melatonin levels and subjective mood and alertness were assessed at regular intervals relative to the light stimulus. Subjective alertness levels were elevated after light onset irrespective of light wavelength or irradiance. For melatonin suppression, a significant irradiance response was observed with blue light. Co-administration of red light, at any of the irradiances tested, did not significantly alter the response to blue light alone. Under the current experimental conditions, the primary determinant of the melatonin suppression response was the irradiance of blue 479 nm light, and this was unaffected by simultaneous red light administration.


    • #3
      I'm interested in it too. Glasses to watch our shows/movies might be a great idea. I'll look into it myself.


      • #4
        Originally posted by zoebird View Post
        I'm interested in it too. Glasses to watch our shows/movies might be a great idea. I'll look into it myself.
        People ignore that this is a problem, but I think it is a bigger problem than eating sugar or not sprinting. This is well studied and has been identified as a source of disease for about 10 years and is just now gaining steam. I think the most problematic things we do to ourselves are checking email/surfing at night, watching TV til bedtime, sleeping with nightlights, digital clocks/leds in the bedroom that are blue, and reading/watching TV in bed.

        Wearing blueblockers will help most of these. There's an app you can download that will drop blue from your iphone after dark, screen covers you can put on your desktop. All kinds of things out there that seem like a scam until you study it for real as a health problem. I'll post some studies when I get some time. Lots out there. Do a search on google for melatonin+blue light+sleep.

        Sleep is a cornerstone of paleo/primal. Blue light after dark interrupts the melatonin cycle and sleep.


        • #5
          This is actually a very highly studied area. The Lighting Research Center at RPI and Lighting Innovations Institute at John Carrol University both have many publications in this area. Richard Hansler from LII even started where he sells orange tinted glasses specifically for treating sleep problems.

          Out of curiosity, when you were reading, were you reading a print book or on an electronic device? Even when reading on anything backlit you will get a significant amount of blue-light, where the filtering of your orange safety glasses would prevent that when watching videos.


          • #6
            This is really interesting. Where did you get your glasses?


            • #7
              Oh my, I've been insanely bad at being prompt on here. I did do some introspecting, and I've realized that the biggest difference is in my activity level. I noticed at sometimes I allow myself to be a little too hyper at night, listening to intense music and whatnot, or even just pacing around, that negates any benefit that my blue light restriction bestows. I was probably mistaken because I might have been contrasting nights I was pacing around to a flame to nights when I'm calmly laying in bed with my Kindle Fire, glasses on.

              Doing a brief, unscientific test I've noticed that being calm did make a big difference, so at this point I'd say that perceptually the difference between using flames and orange glasses isn't anything noticeable; it's all dependent upon what you're doing in that setting, so from now on I'm striving to be a little calmer at bedtime.

              Originally posted by Quarry View Post
              This is really interesting. Where did you get your glasses?
              UVEX Safety supple: Uvex - U.S. leader in industrial safety eye and face protection

              You'll have to really look around, as they've REALLY changed their website since my last visit. Any old pair that can be selected in the orange tint should do, though I admit I like F.lux and the oil lamp much better.