Innovative tinted specs help eliminate blue light for a good night's sleep
Research has shown that the number of individuals who are suffering from sleep disorders has increased dramatically in recent years. While some of the blame is as a result of stress and poor lifestyle, the main culprit is thought to be the amount of blue light in our modern environment.
According to specialist ophthalmologist Dr Robert Daniel, developer of South Africa’s first non-invasive, non-mediated sleep solution called SleepSpec, research has shown that there is a connection between the increased amount of blue light in our modern environment and the growing incidence of sleep difficulties.
‘Digital devices including LED televisions, cellphones and tablets all produce blue light as do modern lighting from LED lights and compact fluorescent lamps - fluorescent lights produce about 25% more blue light and LEDs, about 35% more than older, traditional incandescent lights,’ explains Daniel.
This blue light suppresses the production of melatonin – commonly called the ‘sleep hormone’ which is responsible for controlling one’s sleep and awake cycles.
‘Our body clock is controlled by something called the circadian rhythm,’ explains Daniel. ‘This is the 24 hour cycle of day and night which controls our sleep patterns and is adapted to the earth’s natural rhythm of day and night.’
Sunlight also contains blue light, therefore as the sun rises melatonin production is suppressed and our bodies wake up, at night as the sun sets and light fades into darkness there is less or no blue light and melatonin is produced preparing the body to move into sleep mode.
‘Nowadays, however artificial light from lamps and particularly from electronic devices, means that the brain struggles to distinguish the change from day to night, melatonin production is suppressed and so our bodies’ are unable to move effectively into sleep mode,’ says Daniel.
He adds that in order to adequately prepare the body for sleep and allow sufficient melatonin production, one should not be exposed to blue light for at least two hours before bed time.
However, doing this would be virtually impossible in our modern lives – it would mean switching off all blue light emitting devices including televisions, cellphones, computers and tablets.
‘SleepSpec – a pair of spectacles with specially manufactured orange lenses provides a solution to this modern dilemma. The lenses absorb all blue light, allowing for melatonin production thus preparing the body for sleep,’ explains Daniel.
He adds that SleepSpec allows one to carry on with all normal activity whether it be working, watching television or reading e-books without the negative side effect of not being able to go to sleep when switching off the light.
‘SleepSpec effectively supports the body’s natural circadian rhythm allowing one to regain a natural and healthy sleep pattern,’ he says.
The glasses come in an attractive design and there are models for young children as well as an option with inserts which enables spectacle wearers to have their prescription lenses inserted.
It is also important that one’s room is made as dark as possible and that the spectacles are only removed once the light, tablet, television etc have been turned off.
One can purchase a torch with an orange light which should be used at night to see, rather than turning on conventional lamps or lights.
‘We have seen outstanding results from patients who have started using the SleepSpec,’ says Daniel. ‘Businessmen and sportsmen who travel extensively make use of SleepSpecs to treat jetlag, children with sleep problems and even those with ADHD have reported dramatic improvements in concentration levels due to better sleep patterns.’
He adds that the health risks of poor sleep and suppressed melatonin also include an increased risk of cancer, impaired immune system function, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. ‘New research is also pointing to a connection between sleep deprivation and mental illnesses such as depression, dementia and Alzheimers,’ he comments.