Individuals with bipolar disorder experience frequent shifts of mood from depression to mania with periods of normal mood between episodes. Problems sleeping is another characteristic. Many customers with bipolar disorder have told us they find LowBlueLights® Sleep Glasses are helpful in stabilizing mood and improving their sleep.
Dual use of our Sleep Glasses as a possible treatment to reduce manic episodes:
In the case of bipolar mania, the main benefit of blocking blue light may be preventing stimulation of the alerting centers in the brain while the main benefit for sleep may be allowing the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. For improved sleep, we recommend not only avoiding blue light for several hours before a consistent bedtime but also exposure to light (especially light rich in blue light) at about the same time every morning. Daily outdoor exercise, like walking, has a big effect on sleep quality.
Two studies in Norway found the LowBlueLights eyewear allowed patients who had been hospitalized for mania to recover quickly by wearing the glasses (or being in darkness) for 14 hours each night. This was in addition to standard treatment. Patients wearing clear placebo glasses did not improve during the seven days of the trial. With standard treatment typical recovery is several weeks. (1,2)
The glasses work in two distinct ways. Blue light has been shown to activate special sensors in the retina that do not contribute to vision. One function is to control the circadian clock and the production of melatonin. Exposure to blue light in the evening prevents the production of melatonin. A second function is to stimulate the alerting centers in the brain. Wearing glasses that block blue light or being in darkness for 14 hours a night allows the body to maximize the production of melatonin that promotes sleep and shuts down the brain centers that keep one awake and calms the overactive brain characteristic of mania.
Since the body is able to produce melatonin for about 12 hours, the typical practice is to put on the glasses in the early evening. The time wearing the glasses before retiring plus the hours spent sleeping in darkness should add up to about 12 hours.
Exposing the eyes to bright light at about the same time early in the morning keeps the circadian clock in synchrony with the rotation of the earth. Bipolar disorder is thought to involve mutations of some of the genes that make up the circadian clock, so maintaining a regular schedule helps stabilize mood and avoid episodes.
Alzheimer’s disease involves the gradual destruction of the brain by plaques of aggregated beta amyloid and of tau protein. Melatonin has been shown to inhibit the aggregation of these proteins that are normally present in the brain (3). Wearing glasses that block the blue rays in ordinary white light for a few hours before bedtime will increase melatonin production by the pineal gland (4). The pineal gland injects melatonin directly into the brain so the concentration is much higher than in the blood (5).