I Tried Green Light Therapy for Sleep — Here’s What Happened

published Sep 24, 2021
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I’ve never been great at falling — and staying! — asleep. Even If I’m really tired, it can take me more than 30 minutes to doze off, and I almost always wake up a couple of times during the night. Unfortunately, I’m also the type of person that needs lots of sleep to function — so I’ve tried pretty much every trick in the book, from CBD oil and Sleepytime tea to weighted blankets and candlelight epsom salt baths. In fact, I often worried there were few tried-and-true ways for me to ensure a full night’s rest — until, that is, I tried out green light therapy. 

You’ve probably heard that blue light, the type of light commonly emitted from screens, can interfere with a good night’s sleep. But blue light isn’t the only wavelength that affects the body. Studies suggest green light also has physiological effects, from easing light sensitivity during migraines to promoting relaxation.

Supposedly, the green light emitted from the Allay Lamp calms hyperactive neurons to help ensure a good night’s sleep — so when I had an opportunity to try one out, I couldn’t say no. But first, I wanted to understand the science behind it. Could green light really be the sleep-inducing solution I’d been looking for?

Kuljeet K. Gill, MD, a sleep specialist at Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group in Illinois, says light can affect the body in different ways. “Different wavelengths of light can have different effects because of how they affect cells in the eye, which then go on to affect brain function in different ways,” she says. Blue light, for example, is known to suppress melatonin, which can make it harder to sleep. Blue light has also been shown to be more irritating to people with migraines. 

Green light has a key difference from blue light, which could be part of its more relaxing effect. “Green light is a narrower wavelength, compared to blue, which is a shorter wavelength and can cause a very intense response on a person’s sleep signal,” says Gill. 

A green light’s supposed ability to soothe the body and mind is exactly what the Allay Lamp capitalizes on. While Gill says she’s not aware of major scientific evidence that green light is linked with faster or better sleep, a few small experiments point in that direction. For example, one 2019 study found green light exposure led to more calmness and relaxation than exposure to other colors, while a study of mice from 2016 found green light induced sleep faster than other wavelengths. And plenty of studies show that spending time in natural greenery outdoors can lower stress hormone levels, which theoretically could improve sleep. 

Knowing all this, I was excited to try green light therapy from the minute I pulled the Allay Lamp out of the box. The lamp, which is smaller than a loaf of bread, is super sleek — so small it won’t take up tons of space on a bedside table or be annoying to lug from room to room. You turn it on by tapping the top, and it lasts for up to 32 hours when it has full power (it charges in the wall like a phone). The brightness is also adjustable, if you find yourself wanting dimmer or stronger light. Ease-of-use is definitely a plus — nobody who needs a good night’s sleep wants to deal with unnecessary stress before bedtime. 

Hoping for positive results, I used the lamp for 30 minutes every night before bed for a week. I set it on my bedside table, turned all the other lights off, and either chatted with my husband or kids or did a mindfulness exercise before attempting to fall asleep. I’ll admit, I definitely caught myself getting sleepy in the dim, green light of the lamp, and felt the type of full-body relaxation I feel when I’m meditating or taking a warm bath. 

I didn’t notice major changes in my sleep the first few nights — it still took me a while to drift off and I woke up a couple times, as usual. But the more I used the lamp, the more I noticed myself falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer than if I hadn’t used the lamp at all. 

I plan to continue using the lamp, but not necessarily because I think the green light is a miracle cure. What really helped me sleep, I think, was creating a better sleep-hygiene routine before bed, given that I was also ditching the screens and creating a calm environment in my room. For the first time in a while, I was prioritizing relaxing behaviors before bed rather than watching “Grey’s Anatomy” or scrolling TikTok until I got tired (only to find I couldn’t sleep at all). Scientific or not, it works for me.