I don’t believe in silver bullet safety, but this one simple questions seems to spur an incredible amount of discussion and knowledge transmission at just about every single safety meeting I attend. I ask this question to mitigate inter-generational effects in the workplace, or to bridge the generation gap. Continue reading
I’ll let you in on a little secret I learned from the movie The Hangover, and it has nothing to do with getting wasted.
In the 2009 movie, The Hangover, Zach Galifianakis plays Alan Garner, a socially inept future brother-in-law to the groom. This odd character is seconded only by his odd fashion choices, which you can replicate HERE.
If you are an eyewear connoisseur, you’ll notice that Zach is wearing Blublocker sunglasses, made famous by late night infomercials from the 80’s like this one:
What’s so awesome about these sunglasses? They were the first sunglasses to really address the issue of ultraviolet light. They also happen to block the blue spectrum of light that lies near UV light to provide you with crystal clear vision. Blue light refers to light in the 400-500 nanometer range of the spectrum, and recent research is showing that this light is both a blessing and a curse.
Blue light has an incredible way of re-setting your circadian rhythm. When this wavelength enters your eye, it signals your brain to suppress melatonin production, so you feel more alert. In fact, researchers are providing truckers with blue light exposure on long hauls, and it’s proven to be more effective than a cup of coffee for enhancing alterness:
So if you’re a heavy equipment operator who’s trying to stay more alert, try some blue lens safety glasses to help your eyes get a dose of light in the 400-500 nanometer range. Alternately, if you’re a night shift worker who has trouble falling asleep after your shift, try wearing some orange lenses for the last hour of your shift, on the drive home and while you’re at home.
By blocking blue light, the opposite is true. Your brain enters into a state of virtual darkness. When these light waves in the 400-500 nanometer range are blocked, this is as effective as darkness when it comes to restoring melatonin production. A 2008 study gets into this in more detail, you can read about it HERE.
Blue light is not always a blessing. If you are reading your smart phones or tablet before bed, you could be unwittingly participating in a modern health experiment gone wrong. The blue light emitted from these devices is suppressing your melatonin production, making you fall asleep later and have a lighter sleep when you do finally get some. The result is long term fatigue, cardiovascular issues, weight gain and irritability that affects your relationships.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money to take advantage of blue blocking lenses. Just get yourself a pair of orange safety glasses like the Uvex Skyper:
So here’s a list of things you can to to to manage blue light and improve your sleep hygiene:
1. PPE for Mobile Devices at Night.
Wear Orange Tinted (blue-blocking) safety glasses when browsing your phone or tablet at night. Wearing blue blocking lenses 2 hours before bed will prevent the blue light spectrum from waking you up, and will result in a better sleep. Read the reviews at Amazon to learn how orange lenses are helping people to improve their sleep without drugs. LINK LINK LINK
2. For Night Shift Workers
Night shift work for emergency workers, on drilling rigs and at refineries wreaks havoc on a person’s circadian rhythm. If you provide orange tinted safety glasses for night shift workers to wear for the last 2 hours of their shift, it can help your workers get to sleep sooner, resulting in better rest and better productivity on night shift. In fact, blocking the 400-500 nanometer wavelength tricks the brain into a “virtual darkness” state, even with high levels of ambient light, and prevents the morning light from suppressing melatonin LINK.
3. For Travelers
Travelers can launch a pre-emptive strike against jet lag by re-setting their body clock ahead of time. One product on the market, called the Re-Timer, consists of some head wear with blue/green LED lights. The user wears them upon waking up in the morning to help suppress melatonin release, making them feel more alert. If you’re trying to kick the coffee habit, this might be the product for you: re-timer.com
4. Blue Safety Glasses for Night Shift
If you want your night shift workers to feel more alert, do the opposite. Get them to try some blue tint safety glasses like the ones listed at fullsource.com. Blue lens safety glasses are good for filtering sodium lighting and help with visual acuity in these environments. Of course, you’ll have to ensure that some of your workplace lighting is providing the full spectrum of light.
5. Provide full spectrum Lighting in the workplace
Some people who have Seasonal Affective Disorder might put in a request for a full spectrum SAD light at their desk, but what about people who work outdoors? Most of your workforce could be suffering silently with the symptoms. In this case, check out the Verilux line of full spectrum fluorescent tubes: www.verilux.com
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