Do you have trouble falling asleep at night? I don’t! Or at least, I don’t anymore. I used to have terrible insomnia. It would take me at least 2-3 hours to fall asleep and I would wake up multiple times per night. Now, it takes me less than 15 minutes to fall asleep on most nights and I sleep through the night. I wake up refreshed and ready to start my day! So, what changed? Learn about my one simple, but powerful trick that changed my sleep for good!
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Insomnia is no fun. Lying in bed at night uselessly counting sheep, while everyone else is sound asleep. I get it. I’ve been there. What’s even worse is that sleep is incredibly important for both our health and happiness. Your body needs good, interrupted sleep in order to heal and prevent illness. Lack of sleep has been linked to weak immune systems, poor digestive health, respiratory problems, mood issues, and much more (read more about it here!)
When I was recovering from my chronic pain condition, my doctor told me that it was imperative that I go to bed earlier and sleep through the night. The body does most of its healing and repairing while you sleep. This freaked me out. I hadn’t gotten a good night’s sleep in years and now, suddenly, it was a requirement for my health! Or maybe, it had always been a requirement for my health and that’s part of why I was sick?
When I was in college, I got into the habit of sleeping from 3 am to noon on a pretty regular basis. When I got sick and wasn’t able to work anymore, I picked that habit back up. I had always been more of a night person anyway. When my doctor told me I had to change my sleep schedule to 10 pm to 7 am (the body does most of its repair work between the hours of 11 pm and 3 am, so it’s important to be sleeping during that time), I had no idea how to do this. I already had enough trouble sleeping as it is and now I had to go to bed FIVE hours earlier than before? Um, no way.
But, I was determined to heal. I spoke to my nutritionist and she suggested blue light blocking glasses. Suddenly, what I thought would be an impossible feat was within reach. I thought I would have to spend thousands of dollars at a sleep clinic, but nope. These funny looking glasses that cost only 10 bucks on Amazon cured my insomnia and changed my sleep habits for good. I’ve never looked back!
So, how do they work?
Here’s the deal. Our ancestors weren’t exposed to artificial light of any kind. For most of human history, people awoke and slept with the sun. The invention of the electric light changed this natural cycle dramatically making it difficult for us to establish a normal circadian rhythm, also known as our sleep/wake cycle
The hypothalamus, a portion of the brain that controls our circadian rhythm, is hugely affected by outside factors like lightness and darkness. When it’s dark at night, your eyes send a signal to the hypothalamus that it’s time to start feeling tired. Your brain, in turn, sends a signal to your body to release melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall asleep. Artificial light, particularly blue light emitted from electronic screens, disrupts the body’s melatonin production, making it hard for us to fall asleep.
As we all know, establishing a normal circadian rhythm is a big part of achieving optimal health. So how do we fix our disrupted cycles and decreased melatonin production, so we can get back on track? That’s where the blue light blocking glasses come in. These tinted glasses work to lessen the effect of blue light on our bodies, as well as, darken the environment, so we’re not as impacted by artificial light. A lot of people take melatonin at night to help them fall asleep, but guess what! These glasses will allow you to produce more melatonin naturally!
I usually put on the glasses about 2 hours before bed and within an hour or so, I start to feel sleepy. Artificial light (even those that don’t come from our screens) trick our bodies into thinking that it’s daytime and that’s what disrupts our sleep. When I wear the dark glasses, my body realizes that it’s nighttime and starts physically preparing to give me a good night’s sleep. Long story short—it works and there’s science to prove it!
I still try to avoid screens before bed, but if I do have to use my computer or phone, I know that the glasses will help out. Ideally though, you should engage in some relaxing, screen-free activity (see the last section of the post for suggestions) starting about 90 minutes before bed, while wearing the glasses and keeping the light in your room as dark as possible.
Ever since I started wearing the glasses, my sleep has improved dramatically. I was able to use the glasses to fix my sleep schedule and re-establish normal circadian rhythms. I fall sleep quickly, stay asleep, and wake up refreshed, all thanks to a $10 pair of blue light blocking glasses. No, they’re not fashionable, but they work. It’s worth looking like an alien at night when no one sees me, to reduce those dark circles under my eyes during the day when I’m surrounded by people. And it only cost me $10 and a little bit discipline!
While there are more expensive pairs out there, I recommend this $10 pair by Uvex available on Amazon (price is subject to change). In a report published by Consumer Reports, Uvex was ranked as both the best and the cheapest of blue blocking glasses (see the full report here). Their glasses were originally manufactured as safety eyewear for workers, but they work so well that people started using them for sleep. That being said, sometimes you do have to experiment a bit to find the right pair. I actually have 3 different pairs myself (this one, also from Uvex, fits over my glasses the best). In addition to the Uvex pairs, I also recommend this pair here and this one.
How else can I improve my sleep?
While the glasses alone can improve your sleep dramatically, here are a few additional tips for improving your sleep hygiene and getting a better night’s sleep.
- Put away all screens 90 minutes before bed. Although the blue blocking glasses will decrease the effect of blue light on the brain, it’s still ideal to avoid screens as much as possible before bed. I usually put my phone and laptop away about 90 minutes before sleeping. This is a good habit that promotes better sleep and health. I used to watch TV before bed and it was a hard habit to break, but when I discovered all the relaxing activities I could be doing instead (meditating, reading, taking a bath, etc.), it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.
- Take a bath. Taking a bath before bed is both relaxing and healing. You can add two cups of Epsom salts and some calming essential oils for a real spa experience!
- Do a sleep meditation. There are a lot of great sleep meditations and body scans that are designed to help you sleep. There are tons of free apps you can get, such as, Calm and Insight Timer that have good sleep meditaitons. You can also try Yoga Nidra, commonly known as yogic sleep. I recommend this one.
- Try sleep supplements and homeopathic remedies. I’ve used some sleep supplements and homeopathic remedies in the past and they do work well. The key is finding the right one for you. Unfortunately, I’m not a doctor, so I can’t recommend specific supplements. My advice is to talk to your doctor and work together to find one that works for you. Unless you have really extreme insomnia, supplements and homeopathics can work wonders for most people and have far less side effects than medications.
- Read a book. Books are a great alternative to TV. No blue light and they’re scientifically proven to help you sleep. Reading is suggested as a “calming activity” before bed by the National Sleep Foundation. For book recommendations, check out my Book List. Another great option is to listen to an Audible book before bed (get two free audiobooks here!)
- Use lavender essential oils. Lavender is a relaxing scent and great for sleep! There are several ways to use lavender oil:
- Put it in a diffuser
- Use a few drops to give yourself a foot and ankle massage. Foot massages are super relaxing and help you sleep.
- Add 1-2 drops of lavender oil into your hands, rub your palms together, and inhale the scent for 30 seconds. You can repeat this several times until the scent wears off.