We love our technology: phones, computers and televisions. You’ve probably heard that they give off a blue light that can impact our sleep.
Right now, the military's working on a blue-light-blocking lens, like in eyeglasses, that could make a difference not only for warfighters, but also for our sleep.
“We give our military members more and more work to do and less opportunity for sleep," says Dr. Nita Shattuck, sleep expert at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. "What we want to do is let them take advantage of every chance they have to get rest.”
The men and women in our military work around the clock. Those precious minutes of shut-eye matter, especially for shift-workers who may have to sleep when the sun's out or work under artificial lighting.
“Your computer monitor, or your electronic device when you're in bed, actually suppresses melatonin and makes it harder for you to go to sleep,” says Shattuck.
She is studying how blue-blocking lenses worn by deployed, active-duty military members two hours before bed can shield the blue light.
Preliminary results show participants getting more and better quality sleep.
“In our study the participants were going to sleep 30 percent faster than when they weren't wearing the glasses. I think this has huge implications for civilian shift-workers, for police officers, firefighters, and first responders,” Shattuck says.
Another type of glasses give off blue light and can tell your body it's morning, helping to adjust a person’s cycle even in the middle of the night.
“This supplements the light you would get,” says Shattuck.
Dr. Robert Luckey at Luckey Eye Care Clinic in Wesley Chapel encourages using the blue-blocking lenses already on the market for patients.
He showed off the lens. “You can see this is lightly tinted, but not very dark."
A demonstration shows the blue light significantly diminishes through the lens.
“It affects our awareness. It makes us fatigued. If we work on the computer and look at devices it makes us tired throughout the day," Luckey says.
If you don't have the blue blocking lenses, don't worry. Shattuck suggests using blue-blocking apps like “Flux” or turn on the Night Shift mode on your devices to warm up the color of the screen.
Shattuck says it’s best to just step away from our devices two hours before bedtime.
Luckey says the cost for the blue-blocking lenses isn't that much more and hopes it'll be in contact lenses next.
The military will roll out a second study with the technology this summer.