RISE Sleep Tracker
One of Apple's Best Apps of 2024
★★★★★
(20,627)
TRY FREE

Do Blue-Light Glasses Work for Sleep? Here’s the Science

Published
2021-08-18
Updated
2024-02-26
Woman sitting on couch wearing blue-light blocking glasses checking her phone

Do Blue-Light Glasses Work for Sleep? 

  • Blue-light glasses may help you get the sleep you need by absorbing the blue light we often get too much of in the evening, which may otherwise disrupt your sleep. 
  • Research is mixed on the benefits of blue-light glasses, however, and they may only help those with sleep disorders, certain mental health problems, or those with disrupted circadian rhythms, like shift workers and those with jet lag. 
  • The RISE app can tell you when to wear blue-light blocking glasses to make them more effective, and guide you through 20+ healthy sleep habits proven to help you get a good night’s sleep.

You might have heard the hype around blue-light glasses. They’re sold as an easy tool to stop blue light from screens from keeping you up at night. But is there any science behind these claims? 

Below, we’ll dive into whether blue-light glasses work for sleep, when you should wear them, and how the RISE app can help you get and avoid light at the right times for better sleep — whether you’re wearing blue-light glasses or not.

Advice From a Sleep Doctor

Advice From a Sleep Doctor

"We can’t say for sure whether blue-light glasses work for sleep in healthy adults,” says Dr. Chester Wu, Rise Science sleep advisor and medical reviewer, and double board certified doctor in psychiatry and sleep medicine. “There’s more evidence they may benefit shift workers or those with a sleep disorder.”

He added, “Overall, there don’t seem to be any downsides, though, so as long as you’re not using them as an excuse to stay up late with screens, it doesn’t hurt to give them a try as part of a relaxing dimly lit bedtime routine.”

Do Blue-Light Glasses Work for Sleep? 

It’s not clear whether blue-light glasses work for sleep. They may help by blocking blue light from getting into your eyes. In the evening, blue wavelengths of light in bright artificial light can suppress the sleep hormone melatonin and push back your circadian rhythm, or your body clock. This can make it harder to fall asleep. But the research on them is mixed, and more studies are needed to know if they really make a difference to your sleep. 

Heads-up: Blue-light filtering glasses don’t necessarily help you fall asleep faster or get better sleep than usual. But they may reduce the sleep-disrupting effects of evening bright light exposure. Avoiding blue light, by switching off digital devices in the run-up to bedtime, for example, and getting more bright light during the day, which makes you less sensitive to evening light, may have the same effect.

More research is needed into blue-light blocking glasses. Here’s what we know so far: 

  • There’s not much evidence they help healthy adults sleep better: A 2023 systematic review of 17 randomized controlled trials said there’s not enough research to say whether orange glasses improve daytime alertness or sleep quality. Some studies in the review showed blue-light glasses worked for sleep, while others showed they didn’t make any difference. 
  • They may help people with sleep disorders, mental health problems, jet lag, or shift workers fall asleep faster: A 2021 systematic review looked at 24 studies and found substantial evidence for blue-blocking glasses reducing the time it took to fall asleep for “patients with sleep disorders, jet lag, or variable shift work schedules.” A 2017 study found insomniacs who wore amber lenses two hours before bed got more sleep than those who wore clear lenses. And a 2020 meta-analysis and systematic review suggests blue-light glasses work best for those with sleep disorders or mental health issues. The paper concluded, “Overall, there is some, albeit mixed, evidence that this approach can improve sleep, particularly in individuals with insomnia, bipolar disorder, delayed sleep phase syndrome, or attention-deficit hyperactive disorder.” 
  • They may make you feel like you sleep better: A small 2021 study asked participants to wear blue-light blocking glasses or clear glasses from 6 p.m. until bedtime. When wearing blue-light glasses, participants reported falling asleep faster and waking up less in the night. But sleep data from a wearable device showed no changes. Surprisingly, total sleep time was reduced when participants wore blue glasses. 

Expert tip: That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re against blue blockers. Co-founder and CEO of Rise Science Jeff Kahn puts on blue-light glasses about 90 minutes before he goes to bed and uses this habit as a cue to turn off bright lights, light some candles, and start winding down for bed. 

{{ cta }}

Problems With the Research 

There are a few problems with the studies we have on blue-blocking glasses. 

Firstly, it’s hard to blind participants — they know if they’re wearing orange glasses or not. Many studies compare orange or amber glasses to clear glasses or not wearing any glasses at all.

Beyond this, many studies are small — this study, for example, is only on 14 people! They’re also short, so we don’t know if it takes time for wearing blue blockers to improve sleep or if any improvements are long-lasting.

Many studies are done on people with sleep disorders or pre-existing sleep problems, so we can’t really know whether blue blockers help healthy sleepers. And many measure subjective sleep quality, instead of objective measures of sleep or melatonin levels. 

The placebo effect could also come into play, or, conversely, participants may struggle to sleep due to sleep effort, which is when you try to control and force sleep. The act of putting on orange glasses, not to mention being part of a study, makes you think about sleep in a way you might not have before and this could influence the results. 

Plus, it’s hard to determine whether blue light is affecting sleep, or whether it’s another factor, like the exciting content participants are watching on TV. The many other behaviors that can influence sleep aren’t usually controlled for.

The Final Verdict

More research is needed to know if blue-light blocking glasses work for sleep, especially for healthy sleepers. 

Our advice? Blue-light glasses are relatively cheap and, even if they don’t work, they probably won’t do any harm. They can serve as a helpful reminder you’ve started your wind-down routine and it’s now time to do other (more scientifically supported) sleep-promoting behaviors, like doing relaxing activities. 

For those with sleep disorders, blue-light glasses may be useful alongside other treatments. 

If you do use blue glasses, just make sure you’re not using them as an excuse to stay up past bedtime watching TV or do other sleep-disrupting behaviors.

That’s what Dr. Jamie Zeitzer, co-director of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Sciences at Stanford University and one of our advisors, cautions against.

“I’m personally not a fan of blue glasses as they give you the deception that your behavior won’t impact your sleep as long as you’re wearing the glasses,” said Dr. Zeitzer. “Reducing light exposure is important before bed, but it’s not the only sleep-disrupting behavior you need to watch out for.” 

Expert tip: RISE tells you which behaviors you need to watch out for — and when. The app tells you when to do 20+ healthy sleep habits, including when to wear blue glasses and avoid bright light before bed. These habits can help you fall asleep faster and wake up less often. 

RISE app screenshot showing sleep hygiene habit reminders
The RISE app can tell you when to do 20+ sleep habits.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can set up their 20+ in-app habit notifications here

Do Blue Light Filters Work for Sleep?

It’s unclear whether blue filters work for sleep as there isn’t much research on them. 

External filters can be placed on top of your TV, phone, tablet, or computer screen to filter out blue light. You can also use software — like f.lux or features like Night Shift on Apple devices — which adjust the colors on your display, making them warmer.

Research from 2023 recommends tools like f.lux and night-shift modes if you’re using electronic devices in the evening and night. But 2021 research shows they may not make a difference.

Dr. Wu uses f.lux in the evening to reduce blue light exposure from his computer, but he also reduces how much he uses his phone and other screens.

What is Blue Light?

Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum. This spectrum ranges from 380 to 780 nanometers (nm). Blue light has short wavelengths of 400 to 490 nm compared to other types of light, like red or green light. 

Sources of blue light include the sun, LED bulbs, and digital screens — including your TV, laptop, and smartphone. It’s the blue wavelengths of light in bright light you get in the evening that can be disruptive to your sleep.

How Can Blue Light Affect Sleep? 

Blue light can affect your sleep as it can suppress the sleep hormone melatonin and push back your circadian rhythm. This can make it harder to fall asleep at bedtime. It's mainly the blue wavelengths of light in bright artificial evening light that have this effect. 

When our eyes see bright light, it’s a signal to our circadian rhythm that it’s daytime. So this isn’t great if you’re exposed to it in the evening or before bed. 

Research shows blue light may also reduce how much deep sleep and rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep you get.

Blue light is great during the day, though. Light is one of the most effective tools we have to promote healthy sleep. Getting enough bright light during the day can help you get enough sleep at night. 

We’ve covered more on when to get and avoid blue light for sleep here.

When you don’t get enough sleep, you build up sleep debt. This is the amount of sleep you owe your body. The more sleep debt you have, the worse your energy, mood, focus, and health and wellness will be. 

And pushing back your circadian rhythm can cause circadian misalignment, when you’re living out of sync with your body clock. This can lead to low energy, impaired mental performance, and mental and physical health conditions, as well as more sleep debt. 

RISE can work out how much sleep debt you have and predict your circadian rhythm each day, so you can see when your body naturally wants to go to sleep and wake up. 

RISE app screenshot showing how much sleep debt you have
The RISE app works out how much sleep debt you have.

Did you know? We all need a different amount of sleep. When we looked at how much sleep 1.95 million RISE users aged 24 and up needed, it ranged from five hours to 11 hours 30 minutes. Check RISE to find out how much sleep you need.

The RISE app can tell you how much sleep you need
How much sleep RISE users need.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click view their sleep need here, view their sleep debt here, and see their circadian rhythm here

What Do Blue-Light Glasses Do? 

Blue-light glasses block blue light from getting into your eyes by absorbing blue light, but allowing other wavelengths of light to pass through. This reduces how much blue light you’re exposed to while wearing the glasses. 

However, it’s unclear how much this stops blue light from suppressing melatonin and disrupting your sleep. It may be that the more regular your circadian rhythm, the less impact wearing blue glasses has, as they’ve been shown to be more effective for those with circadian rhythm sleep disorders, like jet lag, for example.

When Should I Wear Blue-Light Glasses? 

Wear blue-light glasses about 90 minutes before bed. You could put them on a little earlier, but you shouldn’t wear them all day. Blue light is needed in the morning and daytime to tell your circadian rhythm it’s time to be awake and help regulate your sleep-wake cycle. 

RISE can tell you when to put on blue-light glasses based on your circadian rhythm each day. 

RISE app screenshot reminding you to wear orange glasses
The RISE app can tell you when to wear blue glasses.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can set up their wear blue-light blocking glasses reminder here.

What Are the Best Blue Light Glasses for Sleep? 

There’s no one best pair of blue light glasses for sleep. But we recommend these Honeywell Uvex blue-light glasses. They’re cheap and fit over prescription glasses.

When choosing blue-light blocking lenses, make sure you get amber or orange lenses — some computer glasses come with clear lenses, which won’t block blue light. 

And know that blue blockers aren’t FDA-approved, so check the eyewear you buy to see if they claim to block blue light. 

You also don’t need to spend a lot for the best blue-light blocking glasses — as a 2019 study says, blue-light-filtering efficiency "did not correlate with price."

{{ cta-mini }}

How to Stop Blue Light From Affecting Sleep? 

You can stop blue light from affecting sleep by getting more light during the day, sitting further away from screens, and dimming the lights before bed. Blue-light lenses may work, but there’s more scientific evidence these other behaviors have more influence on your sleep.

Here’s what to do:   

  • Get more light during the day: The more light you get during the day, the less sensitive you’ll be to it in the evening. A 2023 study found bright afternoon light until 5 p.m. was linked to an earlier sleep time, potentially due to reduced light sensitivity in the evening. It’s not clear how much daylight you need exactly, but Dr. Zeitzer says it may be as little as an hour or two, and the more you get the better.  
  • Sit further away from screens: The closer you are to a screen, the more blue light you might be exposed to. The close proximity could also cause eye strain. Consider watching TV before bed, instead of scrolling on your phone. 
  • Dim the lights before bed: Whether you wear blue blockers or not, dim the lights in your home about 90 minutes before bed. Brightness is important — a 2023 study found bright yellow light and dim blue light had the same impact on circadian rhythms, melatonin, and sleep. While sleeping, make your bedroom as dark as possible. We’ve covered more on how sleeping with the lights on affects you here.

Expert tip: What you’re doing with your screen time may have a bigger impact on your sleep than blue light exposure. Be sure to avoid anything stimulating or stressful — instead, opt for relaxing sitcoms over video games and work emails. Set a bedtime alarm to make sure you don’t stay up too late. 

We’ve covered how to use screens before bed here.

Do Blue-Light Glasses Work for Eye Strain? 

Blue-light glasses may not work for eye strain, there isn’t enough research to say. A 2023 systematic review looked at 17 randomized controlled trials and states, “blue‐light filtering spectacle lenses may not attenuate symptoms of eye strain with computer use, over a short‐term follow‐up period, compared to non‐blue‐light filtering lenses.”  

Research shows there was no change in eye fatigue when wearing blue-light glasses.

Looking at screens for long periods of time and close to your eyes may cause more digital eye strain — aka computer vision syndrome — than blue light itself. 

To reduce eye strain, sit further away from screens and follow the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes look at an object that’s 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

Speak to an ophthalmologist if you’re worried about eye health. 

Stop Blue Light From Keeping You Awake 

Blue wavelengths of light in bright light can keep you up at night, but blue-light blocking glasses may not be the solution. More research is needed to know if they really work, especially for healthy sleepers. 

They are relatively harmless, though. So, as long as you’re not using them as an excuse to binge-watch Netflix or scroll social media late into the night, they may be worth a try as part of a relaxing, dimly-lit bedtime routine. 

RISE can tell you when to wear blue-light glasses, when to get and avoid light generally, and guide you through 20+ sleep hygiene habits for a better night’s sleep — whether you decide to wear orange glasses or not. 

Users love these light exposure reminders: 

“RISE is the app we all didn’t know we needed…RISE will notify you when you should dim the lights at night, and when you should ease into the morning with some natural sunlight.” Read the review

And it doesn’t take long to notice the difference  — 80% of RISE users get better sleep within five days — almost as quick as ordering a pair of blue-light glasses. 

FAQs

About Our Editorial Team

Written by
Jeff Kahn, M.S., Rise Science Co-Founder
Reviewed by
Chester Wu, MD, Rise Science Medical Reviewer
Our Editorial Standards
We bring sleep research out of the lab and into your life. Every post begins with peer-reviewed studies — not third-party sources — to make sure we only share advice that can be defended to a room full of sleep scientists.
Learn more
Updated Regularly
We regularly update our articles to explain the latest research and shifts in scientific consensus in a simple and actionable way.

Sleep better. Sell more.

Learn more about Rise for sales teams.

Thanks! We received your information. You'll hear from us shortly.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
About Rise
Rise is the only app that unlocks the real-world benefits of better sleep.

Instead of just promising a better night, we use 100 years of sleep science to help you pay down sleep debt and take advantage of your circadian rhythm to be your best.

Over the past decade, we've helped professional athletes, startups, and Fortune 500s improve their sleep to measurably win more in the real-world scenarios that matter most.

Rise Science is backed by True Ventures, Freestyle Capital, and High Alpha; investors behind category winners Fitbit, Peloton, and Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

Sleep Hygiene

View all
Try 7 days free

The power behind your next best day

RISE makes it easy to improve your sleep and daily energy to reach your potential

RISE app iconApp store icon