Polyphasic Sleep

Night Lighting - Protecting your hormones

By Nade

If you are going to stay up all night awake and doing things, there are some intelligent choices and investments to make.

Man sitting in dark on laptop

Man sitting in dark on laptop


In fact “While monochromatic blue light suppressed melatonin production via melanopsin stimulation, polychromatic white light (which includes blue light) stimulated melanopsin equally while suppressing melatonin to an even greater degree.” You can save your self a lot of health problems and sleeping issues by altering your lighting conditions, and it is really really easy and cheap!

It should be known by every polyphasic sleeper that melatonin (a hormone) is produced by your body, naturally, at night. Unfortunately, if your skin and most importantly your retinas are exposed to UV, Blue Spectrum light, or Green Spectrum light then your body will stop producing melatonin! You might have read about it on here or here, people have been talking about it for a long time, but haven’t really come up with any good solutions for setting up a home for night time… cheaply!

Note that this may be useful only for schedules that contain a core sleep like E3, DC1 or Segmented sleep… where melatonin is an important part of the homeostasis of the schedule. If you are planning on doing uberman, it may still be worth it (for health reasons) but you will need to work out how you can benefit from high melatonin without disturbing your schedule.

Orange UV/blue-safe Glasses

The first option is to wear some cheap red safety glasses at night.

For those of you who do not have the option or do not like wearing glasses (or glasses over glasses), there are some other options.

UV/blue-safe Lightbulbs

Many brands of blue-blocked lights are very expensive, so this is a DIY guide as much as it is an article on sleep hygiene. Fix half your home with Night Lights and Fixtures so you can use normal bulbs in the day and when company is over, and you can use the Night Lights and Fixtures when you are alone at night doing your thing.

Using Night Lights and Fixtures will help set your circadian rhythm in place, which will help with all schedules that have a core sleep, and will improve your health (and body composition.)

Choosing Lightbulbs

night lighting graph







800 Lumens is a decently bright light and should light up a room well. You have several choices of lights for this level of brightness –

  1. 9-13W LED
  2. 18-25W CFL
  3. 75W Incandescent
  4. 50W Halogen

Comparatively (for both the environment, heat safety and your energy bill) LED lights are the best choice. They are slightly more expensive than other bulbs, but they are worth the money and if you do some searching around there are new companies developing cheap LEDs you can buy online.

Here is one example of a cheap Red 220V 10W E27 LED.

Make sure you get the right fitting and power for your country. This is a B27, each country has a different light bulb standard!

Changing the Colour of a blue-emitting light bulb

If you have chosen a lightbulb that emits blue/green light, now you need to know that there is no blue/green light coming out of your chosen lightbulbs. You need a safe, heat resistant way of doing it!

Safelights are a certain type of lighting photographers use to limit the spectrum of light coming from lighting fixtures in their darkroom. They need to do this because otherwise their films will ‘fog’ or even get destroyed! If a safelight is good enough for a film, it will be good enough for your Night Light.

There are many ways to make safelights, the most popular ways are to either buy a safelight filter, but this can be very expensive. The cheap alternative to a light filter is called ‘Rubylith’, which is a safelight film sheet people use for art. Whilst this is useful for other things as you will see below, it is still not the best way to quickly fit out your home with safe lighting.

Buy red Ceramic Resin Enamel Engine Paint.

Spray your new blue-emitting lightbulbs with 2x separate coats of your spray paint, and let each coat dry. When you first turn on your light bulb you might get a bit of a smell, so keep the windows open, but there should be no more problems after the first use.

Monitor and Screen Fixtures

This is where the Rubylith becomes useful, not for lights, but for covers for your monitors and screens. You can construct an easy fixture by simply buying:

  1. Rubylith sheet

    Rubylith Monitor Sheet

    Rubylith Monitor Sheet

  2. Sticky Velcro Buttons

Cut the Rubylith sheet to the correct size, then attach sticky Velcro buttons to the sheet and to your monitors. In the day time you can take the fixtures down by detaching the velcro, and in the night time you can attach the sheet fixtures to cover your monitors and screens again so that you have no blue spectrum light affecting your melatonin!

A note on Red Vs Amber or Orange color filtering.

There are a lot of ‘blue-blocking’ products out there that use amber or orange colored devices. While Amber lensing may be more practical in some cases for night vision, red colored products will be much more effective for one reason. Research shows that green light also blocks melatonin production, perhaps as much as blue light. Amber and orange colored lenses may block blue light but not block green spectrum light, while red colored protection will block both green and blue.


If you have two cores because you are a segmented sleeper, obviously you want to be using blue and white light before you wake up from your second core. Cortisol spikes that help wake you up happen anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour after a change in light.

If you only have a single-core, you should probably still use red light from sundown until sunrise anyway. You could consider E3, with a graveyard nap as a dual-core schedule with its second core split in half. Following that logic, you should allow the production of melatonin until after the second nap because you can naturally ‘ride’ night-time melatonin after your first core into a meditative state without feeling sleepy. This is because your body is producing other hormones and chemicals that compliment melatonin, such as prolactinoxytocindopaminenorepinephrinehistamine and acetylcholine to give you a creative or sexual state, and melatonin plays an important role in achieving that ideal night time wake-state.

If you cannot stay awake at night after your core during E3 while using melatonin-friendly lighting, then you might be struggling with hormonal issues (as other hormones are not balanced with the melatonin production.) You can cheat this by using bright blue lights post-core, but this means your body is detecting long days, which can be detrimental to health.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15713707 “Blocking low-wavelength light prevents nocturnal melatonin suppression with no adverse effect on performance during simulated shift work”
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3047226/ Exposure to Room Light before Bedtime Suppresses Melatonin Onset and Shortens Melatonin Duration in Humans”
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