Hacking Light with Eye Masks, Sunglasses, and Light Bulbs
By Dr. Dan Gartenberg
Controlling your light exposure is one of the easiest ways to ensure healthy sleep every night. By taking down each of the below suggestions, you will ensure that you are on your way to the best night of sleep possible. Just one of the below tools or hacks could change your sleep for the better forever.
Many of the below solutions have been validated in peer reviewed journals and our own research studies.
So let's delve into how your light environment in your bedroom and work environment can optimize your circadian rhythm and thereby promote a deeper night of sleep.
1. Ensure that your bedroom environment is pitch black
How to do it
Did you know that humans have receptors in their eyes that can detect different types of light even when your eyelids are closed? This is why it is extremely important to have a pitch back bedroom environment. Otherwise, these receptors in your eyes, called photoreceptors, send a signal to your brain to inhibit melatonin at a time when your brain should be producing more melatonin. One of the simplest hacks to solve for this is an eye mask. We recommend the Ettitude Bamboo Eye Mask for a few reasons: 1) It thoroughly blocks out light, 2) It dissipates heat well which is important for falling asleep, 3) It is made of a hypoallergenic material that ensures comfortable sleep. This solution is ideal for travel as well, since many hotel rooms have annoying lights from electronic devices and other sources. Other solutions for your home include getting blackout blinds and putting black tape or stickers over any electronics that emit light.
2. Wear your sunglasses at night (TrueDark that is)
How to do it
You probably know the classic song lyric, "I wear my sunglasses at night." While it sounds light a joke, this can actually be very beneficial to your sleep health if you choose the right sunglasses. For some reason, red light at night is better for your sleep health than other forms of light such as blue light. This is why the blue light from computers or cell phones are particularly harmful. Perhaps the reason for this is because of how we evolved to look at a sunset - or maybe it is all that time we spent by the campfire. For whatever the reason, we know that looking through a red lens impacts our photoreceptors at night less than if we expose ourselves to bright blue or yellow light. That is why we recommend the TrueDark Twilight Classic. These glasses fully block out other forms of light and were designed by the famous biohacker Dave Asprey. Other solutions for reducing damaging blue light at night includes purchasing the F.lux software for your computer and turning off the color mode on your phone. Brightness plays a big role here, so if you read at night, try to make the room light as dim as possible, while still not straining your eyes.
3. Natural sunlight in the morning and no sun glasses during the day
How to do it
Probably by now you've heard about one of the best sleep hacks of getting natural sunlight for at least 30 minutes within a few hours after you wake up.
The famous biohacker and Stanford Professor Andrew Huberman has proselytized about this extensively.
In addition to Andrew's protocol, we have an additional suggestion. Don't wear sunglasses during the day. It might sound weird, but this will ensure that your eyes get more sunlight during the daytime. This helps set your circadian rhythm where the more sunlight is almost always better for you.
Since us humans are increasingly indoor creatures, its almost always better to waiver on getting more sunlight any way you can - unless you are getting a lot later in the day or at an odd time due to long distance travel.
4. Turn all of your normal lights into smart lights
How to do it
The results are in! We validated with LIFX Smart Bulbs and Google that adjusting smart lights at night to be red and then ramping them up in the morning to emulate a sunrise improves sleep quality. You can see for yourself the detailed science of our experiment proving how smart lights can be used to improve sleep quality. You can get your LIFX bulbs here, seamlessly integrate into the SleepSpace software in addition to the SleepSpace Smart Bed. Simply place your phone into the SleepSpace Smart Bed and you can set all your lights to turn dim and red. They will then ramp up like a sunrise to at your designated alarm time. This awakens you in a lighter stage of sleep while also ensuring you don't get blue or bright light at night.
5. Always ensure 10,000 Lux of Light
How to do it
Sometimes it's just not possible to get outside. Or perhaps you live in a dreary environment or in a place that gets little sunshine (i.e. Alaska or the Upper Midwest). This is why one of the best hacks for better sleep using light is the 10,000 Lux Verilux happy lamp. Simply place this very bright lamp at your work station and turn it on for a half hour today during the morning. This is a simple way to set a healthy circadian rhythm. While natural sunlight is always best, artificial light produced by Verilux is better than no sunlight at all.