Have you noticed lately how a lot of celebrities are wearing colored glasses? They look like regular shades, except they sport colors like red, orange and bright yellow. Now in many cases, this is likely just a matter of celebrities wanting to stand out with something different and thus starting a new trend. In some instances though, they may actually be wearing these glasses for therapeutic reasons. It’s possible that the right color of glasses could help you to change your mood, to enhance creativity and productivity and even to get to sleep faster. So let’s find out a little more…
The idea behind color tinted glasses is to block certain wavelengths while letting others in. The best of these claim to block 100% of a particular color of light and this is then intended to have an impact on your brain.
While that might sound far-fetched, it’s actually well known that light can have a big impact on our brains. For instance, our brain regulates its melatonin levels based on the amount of light coming in through our eyes and this is one way that it controls our internal clock. That’s one of the reasons that night-shift workers have it so difficult (1).
Meanwhile, we all know about seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and how it can make us feel depressed in the winter or at least just negatively impact our productivity. And you’ve probably heard about how colors can impact mood and behavior in design. Did you know that a lot of webmasters choose blue or white for their websites because that gets people to stay on their site longer and feel more relaxed? Did you know that just looking at the color red can increase your heart rate? (Interestingly, men uniformly rate women as more attractive if they wear any red).
In other words, light really can have a big impact on your mood and energy levels and that means you can use it to hack your mindset and to become more productive and happier…
Blue Blocking Shades
One of the first ways you can do this is by getting your own pair of blue blocking shades. These are shades that are designed to only block out light with the wavelengths responsible for the color blue. This results in a very orangey hue to everything you look at, which makes it feel almost as though you’re relaxing by a log fire in the evening.
As you might imagine, feeling as though you’re by a log fire all the time is a great way to make yourself cozy and sleepy and that’s the precise impact it has on you by helping you to block out the blue light that prevents melatonin production.
This is particularly important in this day and age because we are constantly staring at computer screens. Computer screens are actually somewhat devastating when it comes to the blue light that they create and this can actually disrupt your melatonin production for the rest of the night resulting in severely disturbed sleep.
Wear blue blocking shades during the night then until you go to bed and your brain will start to perfectly ‘wind down’ – even if you are using computers and watching TV until all hours.
And that’s not all that red light can do for you either. It’s also believed to help increase collagen synthesis and to thereby help make your skin look smoother, softer and more blemish free. On top of this, there is some evidence that it might actually improve the function of your mitochondria. These are the parts of your cells which provide your body with energy and by making those more efficient you might be more productive, burn more fat and wake up feeling more energetic (2).
In a study lasting for two weeks, those wearing blue blocking glasses for three hours before bed have also been found to see improvements in their mood and energy levels (3). They have also been shown to be very effective for shift workers (4) and may even be helpful for combating migraines according to some user reports.
If you don’t want to get yourself blue blocking shades, then one alternative is to get orange bulbs for your lamps and to tape over any LEDs in the room. You can also try using a piece of computer software called ‘F.Lux’ which slightly alters the wavelength of light coming from your monitor. This won’t help with smartphone or TV use though…
Personally, I much prefer the use of orange lenses. Not only do they make you look like some kind of futuristic cyborg, but they also create a strange ambience that’s at once relaxing and entertaining.
When You Need Blue Light
But while you want to try and eradicate blue light and encourage red light at night when you’re getting ready for bed or working on the computer, you want the precise opposite effect in the morning. Blue light is what tells our brain to wake up and to stop producing melatonin and this can help us feel more energetic in the mornings.
Thus, during the day, when you want to be fully alert and active, blue light bulbs can actually increase your performance (5, 6) and help you to avoid feeling tired or upsetting your body clock.
One way that the rest of us can benefit from this is by using SAD alarm clocks. These are clocks that work by gradually getting brighter in order to wake you up. They create a wavelength of blue light that is very similar to that of the sun and this ensures that your brain is gradually ‘roused’ and encouraged to produce more melatonin versus being startled out of a deep sleep as is the case with regular alarm clocks. Instead of waking up groggy and startled and filled with adrenaline, you’re instead gradually brought around with a bright, natural and refreshing light. They’re a little expensive, but I highly recommend them to anyone who experiences grogginess in the morning or with symptoms of SAD.
Color Psychology and Decor
Think as well about the way you let natural light into your rooms and the way you decorate those rooms with different colors in order to alter the ‘feel’ of the room. Remember that colors like red and orange can increase your heart rate and thereby increase stress – these are not the colors you’ll want to use then in your bedroom or guest room!
The color green on the other hand has been shown to be highly relaxing and to help slow our heart rate down. It’s thought that this is an evolutionary adaptation – in the wild the color green would have suggested a lush environment filled with vegetation and plant matter for us to eat.
And because relaxation can make us more creative, having green colors in a room has been shown to help encourage better idea generation.
Using lighter colors in your décor is also advisable, as during the day this will help to reflect more light around the room which in turn will make sure that your space feels lighter as well as feeling cleaner and larger. In short, working in a white or beige room feels closer to working outdoors in the sun than does working in a pokey, dark room and is better for your psychology for that reason.
Similarly, using different colors in your shades may help you to trigger the mood you’re going for. Having a green tint to things might just help you to feel a little calmer and thus to become more creative – you never know!