Introduction: Blue Light Project Part1
So this Lazy Old Geek (L.O.G.) has been obsessed with sleep and insomnia for a long time. One thing that made a big difference in my sleep was getting and using a CPAP machine.
Part 2 of this project is here:
The following link was designed for Veterans but I think any one can use it. I found it very useful but took some effort and commitment:
Or you can probably do it on your own by installing CBT-I Coach app on your smartphone and playing with it. Basically what it does for me is to set my go-to-bed time so that I'm more likely to sleep through the night.
Tips that helped me:
Don’t go to bed unless you’re really tired.
Try not to take naps.
The bed is for sleeping. If you can’t sleep, get out of bed and read. Don’t laze around in bed when you wake up.
Well, still obsessed, I started looking into blue light:
DISCLAIMER: These are my opinions only!
Well, the basic idea is that in the old days, before electric lights, people’s sleep patterns were often dictated by the sun. Up during the day when there’s light, sleeping at night when it’s dark.
But further research and studies seem to indicate that blue light is the primary culprit in that it suppresses the production of melatonin which helps people sleep. This is more of a problem because of electric lights, TV, computers and smartphones.
So I didn’t really come up with a plan but here’s some things I tried:
Smart Color bulbs
WS2812B color night light
‘No blue’ flashlights
‘No blue’ night lights
Blue Blocker glasses
Reduced blue computer screens
Reduced blue smartphone
Reduced blue TV
Step 1: Smart Color Bulbs
One of my plans was to implement smart color bulbs. The idea was to set them for bright white lights during the day, turn off blue lights in the evening and gradually dim them down.
Well, I didn’t want to spend a lot on bulbs so I went through several cheap brands.
WARNING: Some may say they’re “color changing” but they’re not color bulbs, basically, they’re just dimmable. (I’m guessing they’re saying they can change color temperature which is not the same as color)
Anyway, the ones I’m using now are called Wixann. One thing I like is that they are 9W, about 900 lumens which is brighter than most color bulbs. I bought them on Amazon.com.
I’m fairly certain all of these smart color bulbs have four different types of LEDs, white, red, blue and green. Unfortunately for all the ones I’ve seen when you switch from white to color, there’s a big drop in brightness.
These are WiFi bulbs which means you don’t need a special hub like many of them. You do need a WiFi router, though.
These use an app called SmartLife (see pictures) which is used by a lot of the Chinese bulbs. Some things I like about SmartLife, it works with Alexa, which I haven’t used, it works with IFTTT which I played a little with and you can group bulbs, like I have a kitchen group and a bedroom group. And you can schedule light changes.
What I don’t like about it is the lack of good documentation and I believe that certain features may not work with certain devices. E.g., don’t know if I can use scenes or automation.
For the white setting you can set Brightness and Color Temperature, for color you cans set Saturation and brightness.
Basically what I do is set my bulbs to white and at a comfortable Brightness and temperature. In the evening, I set them to red or orange, then dim them down thru the evening-night.
Unexpected benefit: While reading about the problems with blue light, I also learned about the benefits. During the day, blue light helps energize you. Several years ago, a friend of mine said, I should open up my curtains and let the sunshine in. She was right. When I started doing that along with my white light smart bulbs during the day, I have a lot more energy to do projects.
One thing I did notice is when I had my day smart bulbs set to max brightness and temperature, I seemed to get jittery so currently I reduced brightness and temperature. Not really sure if there’s a direct cause-effect here.
Step 2: Screens and Blue Blocker Glasses
Another concern I have is with screens, computer monitors, smartphones and TV.
Well with my computers and laptop I installed f.lux(see picture).
Basically, what it does is reduces blue light in the evening and night.
There are a lot of websites where you can test for blue light. One I’ve used is this:
It’s designed to test blue blocker glasses but also works with f.lux. I couldn’t capture it very well with my camera but blue circle looks almost black.
By the way, I bought some ‘blue blocker glasses” from AliExpress. (see picture)They pretty much failed. But the good news is when I complained they refunded my money.
Smartphone: I’m currently using a Google Pixel 3 XL. It has a feature called Night Light. See attached. It seems to work and many other smartphones have something similar.
TV: Apparently some TVs have a reduced blue light setting, mine does not. One alternative is a reduced blue filter which I’m not got to try. Another is blue blocker glasses (see above). I have ordered a couple more, though.
Meanwhile I’m trying to reduce TV brightness in the evening and night.
To 'test' my progress I use Fitbit and my Fitbit Charge 3. It monitors my sleep. Once recent addition is a feature called Sleep Score (available only in the app). Anyway before testing I was averaging about 78-79. After some changes I'm up to averaging more around 80-81. Not a big difference and I know there's a lot of other factors involved.
I’m going to end Part 1.