Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sun Glasses at Night?

In his 1984 single “Sunglasses at Night” singer Corey Hart sings about wearing his sun glasses to watch his lover, as she lies and cheats on him or this is what I think the lyrics mean? I’m not one to decipher song lyrics; I just thought it was a pretty catchy tune when it was first released. Wearing sun glasses at night seems pretty idiotic, but what about night shift workers wearing sun glasses?


Yes, night shifters wearing sun glasses can be beneficial.

I’m not implying wearing the sun glasses at work, I'm referring to wearing them on the commute home as one remedy to help with sleep disorders related to working night shift.

One sleep disorder common with night shift workers is “onset insomnia” or taking a long time to get to sleep. This is primarily due to decreases in melatonin levels triggered by light cues.

I used to have onset insomnia following night shifts. I would drive home & the sunlight made me feel like I should be awake, even-though I was exhausted I was restless. I turned into Judy Garland [1] experimenting with various substances to help induce sleep, yet taking stimulates (caffeine, energy drinks, etc.) at work to stay awake.

This all changed when I started using my Phillips Blue Light at work and wearing sunglasses that block blue light waves on the commute home.

As mentioned before, light cues (specifically blue wave length) help stimulate or block melatonin release, a key neurotransmitter which induces the onset of sleep.

So during my night shift I simulate sun light with my blue light. I turn on my light for ~ 20 minutes from the hours between 0000-0400 a.m. that’s all. This small change put an end to my onset insomnia, and decreased my stimulant use at night. The small size of the blue light makes it ideal for travel, which makes it easier for me to adjust for various time zones.

Here are some more references on the subject:

[1]. Judy Garland, allegedly was given amphetamines to remain alert during production, as well as barbiturates to induce sleep.

[2]. Sasseville, A. e.t. al. (2010). Using Blue-Green Light at Night & Blue-Blockers During the Day Improves Adaptation to Night Work: a Pilot Study. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 970: 1236-1242.

[3]. Sasseville, A. e.t. al. (2009). Wearing Blue-Blockers in the Morning Could Improve Sleep of Workers on a Permanent Night Schedule. A Pilot Study. Chronobiol Int. 26 (5): 913-925.

[4]. Zamanian, Z. (2010). Effect of Bright Light on Shift Work Nurses in Hospitals. Pak J Biol Sci. 13 (9): 432-436.