December 27, 2017
2 min read

Amber-tinted glasses for viewing electronics can ease insomnia symptoms

You've successfully added to your alerts. You will receive an email when new content is published.

Click Here to Manage Email Alerts

We were unable to process your request. Please try again later. If you continue to have this issue please contact

Glasses with amber-tinted lenses are a safe, affordable and easy intervention for people with insomnia symptoms who use blue light-emitting electronics — such as smartphones, tablets and computers — before bed, researchers reported in Journal of Psychiatric Research.

“Evening light exposure from normal ambient room lighting, eBooks and [LED]-backlit computer screens causes reductions and delays in melatonin secretion. Light exposure from these sources during the hours preceding habitual bedtime can also decrease subjective and objective sleepiness, prolong sleep onset latency, and decrease [REM] sleep and slow wave sleep,” Ari Shechter, PhD, from the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health, department of medicine at Columbia University, and colleagues wrote. “The ramifications for these observations are widespread and important since 90% of responders in a representative survey of American adults reported using some type of light-emitting electronic device within the hour before bedtime. By selectively filtering out blue-wavelength light in the hours preceding bedtime, the impact of light on the circadian system may be ameliorated.”

According to the researchers, previous research has shown that using amber-tinted, blue-blocking lenses when using blue light-emitting devices may have a therapeutic benefit for sleep. To determine whether blocking blue light in the hours before bedtime would lead to better sleep in individuals with insomnia, researchers analyzed 14 people with an insomnia diagnosis randomly assigned to wear wrap-around frames with amber-tinted lenses or with clear lenses (placebo) for 2 hours before bedtime for 7 consecutive nights. Participants repeated the protocol with the other set of glasses 4 weeks later. Researchers also had participants complete daily postsleep questionnaires.

Analysis showed improvement in Pittsburgh Insomnia Rating Scale total scores, and in the quality of life, distress and sleep parameter subscales among participants who wore amber vs. clear lenses (P < .05). The results also showed that participants got approximately 30 extra minutes of sleep when they wore the amber lenses before bed compared with clear lenses. Furthermore, people reported greater duration, quality and soundness of sleep (P < .05), and an overall decrease in insomnia severity over the 7-day intervention period. Total sleep times, measured by actigraphy, were also significantly higher when participants used amber-tinted lenses vs. clear lenses (P = .035).

“The glasses approach allows us to filter out blue-wavelength light from all these sources, which might be particularly useful for individuals with sleep difficulties,” Shechter said in a press release. “Now more than ever we are exposing ourselves to high amounts of blue light before bedtime, which may contribute to or exacerbate sleep problems. Amber lenses are affordable, and they can easily be combined with other established cognitive and behavioral techniques for insomnia management.” – by Savannah Demko

Disclosure : The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.