Bipolar Disorder: Good Results With Blue-Blocker Glasses

At the Shangri-La Diet forums, Anima writes:

I have been diagnosed with ADHD and Bipolar II disorder.  I am also a Non-24, a chronic circadian rhythm disorder where one’s body thinks a day is longer than 24 hours. . . .I’ve been using amber safety glasses (around $3 in the hunting section of the sporting goods store) for dark therapy.  I put them on 3 hours before I want to go to sleep.  They block blue light, allowing dark therapy without the dark.  I also wear an eye mask while I sleep.  The glasses make me look like a big weirdo, but they really work.  It’s easier to get to sleep, and they prevent hypomania (the milder form of mania that people with Bipolar II experience) better than any medication I have tried.  It makes sense that almost anyone could benefit from them, because our ancestors were not exposed to blue light after dark.

She makes many other interesting observations, such as how she kept her cat from waking her up too early.

I don’t have trouble falling asleep but this makes me wonder what effect blue-blocker glasses would have if I wore them regularly at night. Nowadays I carry them in my backpack in case I have to be exposed to fluorescent light at night, such as on the subway. Even though I avoid fluorescent light at night, I still get blue light at night from my laptop screen. I have thought it is too weak to matter because using f.lux (which reddens the screen at night) made no clear difference. I can test this idea again by wearing blue-blocker glasses. I have been using a Zeo to measure my sleep, which may help me notice changes.

At Genomera, Michael Nagle and Eri Gentry are doing a study of the effect of blue-blocker glasses on sleep.

10 Responses to “Bipolar Disorder: Good Results With Blue-Blocker Glasses”

  1. Joseph Buchignani Says:

    Hey Seth,

    F.lux sucks. It’s too weak, and there’s no way to fix it.

    I use redshift on LInux, which is quite powerful and actually does make a difference.

    When I switch from redshift to F.lux on my Windows PC, my eyes hurt.

    I think it definitely makes a difference.

  2. Seth Roberts Says:

    okay, Joseph, you’ve convinced me to try wearing blue-blocker glasses after 9 pm.

  3. Valtsu Says:

    Hello Seth!

    Have you heard about this Finnish product: http://www.valkee.com/uk/ ?

    They report that in one study, subjects achieved a huge symptom relief rate with that product. However, the study report hasn’t been published yet.

    “In Valkee’s CE medical device certification clinical trial, 92% of severely depressed seasonal affective disorder (also known as ‘winter blues’) patients experienced total symptoms relief in 4 weeks with 8-12 minutes of bright light via ear canal [8].”

    The product costs a huge amount of money here in Finland. Almost two hundred euros.

    Hmm… I think that I should possibly try blue blockers. Are all eyeglasses with orange lenses sufficient to blockthe melatonin-suppressing effect of my computer screen?

  4. Tom Says:

    The product costs a huge amount of money here in Finland. Almost two hundred euros.

    Why not make your own? It appears to be nothing but two high intensity LEDs and a rechargeable battery.

  5. Stephen M (Ethesis) Says:

    Ok, I’ve got to know how she kept the cat under control. …

  6. Stephen M (Ethesis) Says:

    Other than moving his supper time. Guess I have to close off the feed the critter on demand system we use now.

  7. Nansen Says:

    Seth, have you changed your belief that incandescent light at night is harmless (with respect to circadian rhythms)?

  8. Seth Roberts Says:

    I still believe incandescent light is harmless.

  9. Joseph Buchignani Says:

    After just having been woken up by a stupid blue cell phone screen, I feel even more certain about the effects. Good luck with your experiment.

  10. Steve Mayall Says:

    Incandescent light will certainly affect your circadian rhythm. In fact any light source which contains a blue component will suppress melatonin production.

    This is due to the ganglion cells in our eyes. They are sensitive to blue light as they connect to the pinel gland. Blue light can travel through our eyelids and when it hits the ganglion cells, melatonin is suppressed and we become alert.

    When it’s dark, melatonin production increases and we feel sleepy. You can place yourself in ‘virtual darkness’ by wearing blue blocking glasses.

    I tried a number of different pairs of sunglasses without much success and ended up making my own very cheaply. If you want to try them, google rodsnconesdotnet. I’d be grateful if people could tell me how they get on with them.

    Best of luck

    Steve