Posted tagged ‘Light bulb’

Beam n Read hands free lamp with blue-blocking filters

August 10, 2015

If you are a quilter or crafter, you’ll know the importance of having good light to work by.  I have two spotlights over my sewing desk, which is fine when I’m working there, but when I get to the stage that involves curling up in bed or on the sofa with the quilting frame, I have a lighting issue.  Recently I discovered that some quilters wear head torches for this.  You look a bit daft, and anyone you lift your head to talk to won’t appreciate the sudden beam of light in their face, which I can manage.  What was bothering me was that the cold white LED shining right above my eyes wasn’t a great option if I wanted to sew in the evenings, in terms of avoiding blue light, and sometimes it would give me a headache.

After some hunting around, I discovered the Beam n Read.  It’s a lamp you hang around your neck, so that it points down onto your crafting or your book and not into the face of your startled partner.  You can get a version with 3 LEDs or a version with 6 LEDs, with a switch that allows you to turn on just 3 of them if you choose.  More relevant to this website, it comes with two snap-on filters that block blue light. One is amber, one is red.  The folks at Beam n Read very kindly sent me one for review.  It’s the 6 LED model.  There’s also a model with a magnifying glass, but I don’t get on with those so I didn’t request it.  Here’s their picture showing what they look like with the filters on.

BNR_LED6_ filters_W2b

It’s an ingenious little device, especially with the filters.  Some people want to be able to see more and can use the amber filter, some want the light to be dimmer and use the red filter, and some simply have a colour preference.  They don’t make any medical claims, of course, but it gives you the option to use task lighting that filters out blue light and thus shouldn’t disrupt your melatonin production.  Having a personal, focused light can be particularly useful if you are, say, reading in bed and don’t want to disturb your partner, or if you’re getting up to feed a baby and want to minimise everyone’s sleep disruption.  The elastic strap which goes around your neck is adjustable, and the lamp itself is sturdily built.  If you find that the 6 LED version is a bit bright on its own, you have the option of reducing it to 3 LEDs when it’s on white, and then putting it on 6 LEDs when it has the colour filter on, so that you don’t end up with a light that’s suitably coloured but too dim to see by.  The colour filters are great, they give a strong light in two useful and pleasant colours, and you don’t get any light bleeding around the edge.  The light seems to be about as strong as my Petzl Tikkina head torch, which is about right for me, neither too dim to work by, nor so bright that you get glare problems.  Being bigger (and heavier), it takes bigger batteries, so it’ll last a lot longer before requiring fresh ones.

Unfortunately, it just didn’t work for me.  As a child, I remember reading a book which said something along the lines of, “Owen’s parents realised he needed spectacles when they saw him reading with the book six inches away from the end of his nose.”  (I have no idea what the book was, but it definitely featured an Owen.  I think he was Welsh, and there may have been magic involved.)  I thought this was rather odd, as I have always held books that close or closer even with my glasses on!  It’s the same when I’m sewing.  From what my optometrist says, people who are very short-sighted like me tend to do this, and you end up finding positions for reading and sewing that work nicely for you without much trouble.  However, it means that having the light shining from the top of your chest, rather than from somewhere near your eyes, is absolutely useless.  I shortened the strap as far as it would go, and moved the quilting frame around, and wriggled.  Unless I sat at a really uncomfortable angle which I couldn’t sustain for long, I couldn’t get the light to do more than illuminate the bottom part of the quilting frame.  I found the strap rather scratchy as well.  Beam n Read mentioned that some quilters make their own strap, which may mean that there are a few other people having this problem, although it could just be a case of quilters wanting to make their own version of any textile in sight.

So then I tried putting it on my forehead.  The strap is too long for that, so I grabbed my trusty eye mask and put that on top of it to keep it in place.  That worked, but then it felt uncomfortable having that big straight block of plastic against my forehead.  A spare fleece wrist warmer worked for padding, and I managed to keep it on my head for long enough to work with.  I now had light coming from the angle I wanted, and I could change it to amber light in the evening so that it wouldn’t creep around the edges of my orange-tinted specs!  But the set up was quite ridiculous, it’s really not meant to be used that way, and before long it fell off.  I don’t have babies who need to be fed in the middle of the night with minimal light, or go camping, or any other uses that I can think of that would work for me.  Reluctantly, I gave up on it.  I think I’ll have to buy a second head torch and put an orange vinyl filter over it instead.

By this point I was eyeing it wistfully, as it’s a nifty device and I had really wanted it to work.  I brought it out to show my friends when they were around for board games, as they are crafters too.  The cross stitcher said it wasn’t for her.  The spinner is interested, and since they hold their spindle quite low down, it may end up working for them.  The knitter wasn’t there and hasn’t been knitting much for a while anyway.  My partner, who doesn’t do any of these things (though he does play a variety of musical instruments), is wondering whether he will be able to attach it to a bedpost so that he can read in the evening without having his rather large bedside lamp on and shining white light everywhere.  I suspect it won’t really work for that, but we will play around and see what can be done.  I’m sure there is someone I know who will find that it’s just the thing for them.

I can’t really give this one a rating, since whether it works for you will depend on whether you like having light coming from your chest rather than near your eyes, and what sort of tasks you will use it for.  If you reckon it will suit you, then it’s great.  The only thing I’d criticise is the strap, which I hope they improve in the future.  Apart from that, it’s the only device of this nature I know of which has orange and red filters, and it’s sturdily built, with a good battery life.  You can get head torches with an additional red light built in, but as far as I can tell, the red light on those is too dim for sewing or reading by.  I may give one of them a try just to see.

Considering new lighting options

May 16, 2010

While my faithful GoLite is still going strong, the little white LED lightbox which I bought on eBay for £10 looks like it might be on its way out.  The timer function no longer works, and sometimes the light goes out and the cable has to be wiggled or unplugged and plugged in again in order to get the light back on.  I’ll keep going until it really is dead, but I’m starting to consider my options.

I do prefer having a spare lightbox for the sewing desk, since I hate crawling around on the floor to unplug cables every time I want to change which room I’m lightboxing in, and also because the blue of the GoLite doesn’t go well with sewing.  I’ve been interested in LED lighting for a while anyway because of the energy savings.  The snag is that while the wattage is very low, the price of the bulbs is high and apparently it’s difficult to get a comfortable shade of white.  Certainly the cool white of my current lightbox isn’t something I’d care to light my home with.

So one option is simply to buy another white LED lightbox.  The cheapest I can see is the Rio, which is £50.  It looks like a nice enough little lightbox, but this isn’t like getting a spare one for a tenner.

Option 2 is to get this all-singing all-dancing bulb.  There are various multi-coloured LED bulbs on the market, but the rest are less bright and don’t include a warm white.  This one boasts 8W of power, includes a warm white, and comes in both wide and narrow beam versions.  I could use the cool white or the blue for light therapy, the warm white for general use, and then in the evenings I would have a selection of colours from red to yellow for darkness therapy, which is something I could do with in this room.  At the moment, if I want to sew during darkness therapy time, I have a couple of lamps above head height at my desk and while the room doesn’t get that bright overall, I’m sure there’s some light creeping over the top of my orange glasses.  The total cost would approach that of buying a separate lightbox, especially if I ended up getting it a desk lamp of its own so that it could be right next to me.

Things to consider and/or ask about:

1. How good the warm white is, both in terms of colour and brightness, and whether it will mesh well with the halogen bulbs I currently use for my sewing desk.  I hear that some warm white LEDs these days are pretty decent.  It would presumably be different to those, however, as they’re creating the white light from white LEDs and this would be creating the white light from a mixture of red, blue and green.

2. I presume that even a warm white LED still has a lot of blue in it.  Would using this as a general lamp during the daytime overdo the light exposure, or would it be fine as long as I moved it a bit further away from me?  People can be outdoors for hours without messing up their sleep, after all.

3. Whether the light therapy usage time would need to be ridiculously long.  I know that one LED lightbox I researched ran on 10W, but I can’t remember if that was a white or a blue one.  At 8w, hopefully this would be close, and I could position it in the effection spot just above my eyes, although I’d need to make sure it wasn’t too close in order to avoid glare discomfort.

4. On the other hand, perhaps it wouldn’t matter if the usage time was longer since even the warm white would presumably have a reasonable effect.  This could turn out to be the lamp which you just use as your general desk lamp instead of a shorter burst of more concentrated light therapy.  If I end up simply putting it in the floor lamp which leans over my desk from the left, I’d need to make sure that the light was strong enough to more or less compensate for a 60W equivalent bulb.

5. Wide beam (88 degrees) or narrow angle beam (31 degrees)?  Does anyone know what your average R63 spotlight bulb is?  I’d be happy with an equivalent to that.  Judging from this page, the narrow angle bulb would work well.  You can also read more about the bulb in question here, where it claims that it’s equivalent to a 50W halogen.  That should be sufficient.

Sleep improving again

April 16, 2010

At last I seem to be out of the patch of mediocre sleep I was having for a while there.  We’re still not sure, but it looks like it was caused by the high-dose multivitamins my specialist has me on, probably the B vitamins in particular.  I’ve halved the dose and am taking them in the mornings only, plus using coloured light bulbs and herbal sleep aids in the evenings again, and my sleep is back to being bang on time and good quality.  I was up and quilting at 7.30 am yesterday!

I’ll probably continue the herbal sleep aids for a few months, just to get the message through, as advised by a local herbalist.  That said, I haven’t taken any supplements at all for the last few days, and I’m still sleeping well.  The current dose is either one Valerian Formula with one capsule of valerian alone, or three capsules total of any combination of valerian and passiflora (my next bottle of Valerian Formula is late in the post).  This is slightly higher than what I was taking before, but the herbalist said it’s still absolutely fine to use for a few months.  Dr Myhill recommends anything up to four 400mg capsules of valerian where I’m taking two, for context.

Using the coloured light bulbs every night is something that didn’t seem necessary when I was having very good sleep for five months, but does make a difference now, although I don’t know if that was just while I was on those multivitamins.  My coloured-light-hating partner is away on holiday for twelve days, so I’ve taken the opportunity to spend this time under low coloured light in the evenings.  I’m still fiddling with how I set up the coloured lightso that it is as pleasant as possible, gives the right amount of light for pottering about my bedroom, and doesn’t allow (much) blue light to creep in around the edges of my orange glasses.  Previously I had the salt lamp by my bed with a pink bulb in it, which produced a sort of salmon-coloured light.

I still haven’t got around to constructing a DIY spectroscope with a DVD and cereal box, as advised by my kind readers here, but I’ve taken the tip to put a DVD by the light source to see if any blue reflects off it.  As expected, the salt lamp produces a little blue light with an ordinary bulb inside it, but no blue light with a coloured bulb.  The yellow bulbs in the hall which I use to light the bathroom are fine too.

I wasn’t mad on the salt lamp by the bed, it was rather dim and too pinkish for my taste.  So I’ve bought a small opal glass pebble lamp and put a 15W pygmy amber bulb inside for by the bed, and put the salt lamp back in the bookcase opposite the bed with its original 15W uncoloured bulb.  The salt lamp produces a pleasant peachy-golden glow which I actually put on about an hour before the orange glasses go on, and I am careful to make sure that I don’t get so close to it that the stray light will get around the edges of my orange glasses.  It looks much nicer with an uncoloured bulb in there, as you can see the variations in colour produced by the salt which was most of the point of getting that lamp in the first place, whereas the coloured bulbs masked that.  The pebble lamp by the bed is perfectly safe even without the orange glasses, and provides substantially more light than the salt lamp did when it had the pink bulb in.  It’s enough that I can pootle around the bedroom and just about see the laptop keyboard well enough to type, but dim enough to be thoroughly relaxing.  I never really used to like those amber bulbs, I always preferred the yellow ones, but it seems that my tastes have changed as I now find it quite a pleasant colour.  We’ll see what my partner thinks when he gets home.

I’m not bothering to put in alternative bulbs in the living room, I’m not in there much in the late evening and I can just turn the overhead lights down low with a dimmer switch.  I’m hoping to move flat this year and I’ll set up a better arrangement then.  I’ve got my eye on those LED bulbs which offer sixteen colours and have a remote control, but right now they’re not very bright, mostly don’t have a warm white, and very expensive, so I’ll wait until I’m settled in the new flat and hopefully by then LED lighting will have improved.

I’m also not bothering to put the orange filter back on the laptop screen, as the orange specs and amber lighting seem to be enough.  I think that the amount of stray blue light that gets to my eyes round the edges of the glasses from the laptop screen is too minimal for me to need to worry about it, especially since I’m generally watching films on the laptop by that point in the evening and it’s thus a good six feet away from me.

Siestas continue to be odd.  I’m still not sure whether I really need them or not.  I’m taking them perhaps half the time, when I really can’t keep my eyes open in the afternoons.  It’s easier when I know I’ll be using coloured bulbs that evening, otherwise I’ve had a few nights where it was difficult to get to sleep the night after a siesta, which by now is something unusual for me.  Occasionally the siesta ends up rather longer than planned, say four hours, which again seems to be OK if I use coloured lights that evening and could go either way if I don’t.

As I don’t think I’ve got around to discussing yet, I alter the time when I begin the darkness therapy by twenty minutes each month in a rough reflection of seasonal variation.  For April, the darkness therapy starts at 9.40.  It seems to be suiting me.  The latest it will start is 10.20 in June, and I’m curious to see whether that will be too short a length of time for the darkness therapy, or whether I’ll just adjust.  Certainly this method makes me feel more in synch with when it gets dark outside, even if I’m not following the local sunset hours that closely (I live too far north for that to be wise).

What my sleep’s up to these days

February 26, 2010

The yellow bulbs in the hall are continuing to work well to light the bathroom, and the salt lamp is now confirmed for staying by the bed with a pink 15W pygmy bulb in it.  I should probably mention that there’s no reason why anyone should get a salt lamp, I just find them pretty myself, and they already filter out a certain amount of blue light (though not all) through being orangey.  It’s odd, the light looks deep pink if you put it on when the room is already lit, and more orange if you put it on when the room is dark.  It’s useful for when I want to sneak out of bed and get dressed when my partner’s still asleep, as it’s not bright or blue enough to wake him up, or as soft background lighting in the late evening.  Most useful of all, the cable has ended up positioned so that the switch is down the side of the bedside cabinet, about as easy to get to from the bed as is humanly possible, which saves fumbling around in the drawer to find the red bike light or similar. By the way, if you do decide that salt lamps are nice and go looking for one, ignore all the nonsensical health claims.  They’re just pretty lamps.

For some reason my sleep’s been a little odd over the last couple of weeks.  It may be because when my partner had a week off, our routines changed slightly.  I set the clock on the dawn simulator so that it would come on an hour later, as he said he wanted a bit of a lie-in but not to end up losing the whole morning.  I was often up and lightboxing before the dawn simulation as my wake-up time seems to be well-programmed, but it seemed to work well for him.  Then we went to bed an hour or so later than usual, which for me is strange as by now you generally can’t keep me up much past midnight however you try.  I’ve also been a lot more tired than usual during the afternoons and evenings, which I am now putting down to the ME/CFIDS having a minor flare.

Now that he’s back at work, I have been wrestling with the problem of my body’s sudden ardent desire to have siestas.  I’ve snapped back into my usual wake-up time with no trouble whatsoever, but I keep getting irresistibly sleepy later in the day.  I’ve tried fighting it for a few days, using the lightbox on a double stint in the morning and/or an extra session after lunch or early afternoon, and putting the little blue LED bulb into a clip-on light (which leaves it fully visible; at 1W it’s not so bright that you can’t look at it comfortably) and putting it by the bed or laptop from 9.30 am to 3 pm.  I’ve known that LED bulb to keep me quite wired at night if used up to 4.30 pm, but it didn’t do a thing for keeping me awake in the afternoons this time.  I wondered about adding a bit of 470nm blue light to my dawn simulation in the hope that it would get the message across to my circadian clock more effectively, and tried setting it for 15 min before and after the start of the dawn simulation.  When it actually came on, it turned out to be much brighter in a dark room than I’d expected, so I immediately turned it off.  I’d still be curious to try a blue or white LED dawn simulator one day.  The only blue one I know of was put together by this guy, and the only white one that’s meant to be any good (there are some cheap ‘n’ nasty things around) is the SRS320 by Morning Sunrise (Sunrise System), which not everyone likes as an overall unit.

I have now given in and realised that my body probably just wants more sleep by now, which can happen from time to time with ME.  I slept 16-20 hours a day the first year I was ill, not that I anticipate going back to that.  But someone on an ME forum did recently tell me that she feels best when she makes herself get about 11 hours’ sleep a day, which she guesses is due to her body’s increased need to do repair work during sleep, so I think trying some extra sleep is worthwhile.  I’m still aiming for my usual bedtime but am not too worried if we end up going to bed an hour later, though I’m occasionally lying awake for a little or waking up an hour before my alarm, something that’s less common for me these days.  The siestas are going OK, they range from 1-3 hours, though I suspect today may have been more like 4.  I originally tried sleeping with the curtains open and then went for closing them so that the room is pretty dark, in the spirit of having a proper sleep.  I think I’ll go back to leaving them open, I don’t want to end up messing up my sleeping pattern by getting my body to think that mid-afternoon is bedtime.  I’ve also gone back to herbal sleep aids at bedtime, since they never do me any harm, I just stopped them because at that point they were redundant.  I may as well get all the sleep I can if my body’s clamouring for it.

So far, my sleep at night is a little more broken as described above, but I no longer have the problem of having to torture myself to stay awake earlier in the day.  My overall energy levels are relatively low at the moment, so I think I made the right call on getting more sleep.  The only snag is that when I don’t remember to turn the phones off for my siesta I get woken several times (this is bringing back how awkward it is to sleep during the day), and when I do turn them off, I forget to turn them back on again!


I’m definitely feeling better with more sleep, at least over the last few days.  I’m taking a fair bit of herbal stuff to knock myself out at night, last night it was one valerian formula, one 400mg valerian, and two 300mg passiflora/100mg chamomile capsules, but I’ve taken that sort of dose before and know that I’m absolutely fine with it, though I probably wouldn’t want to be relying on it long-term.  It’s far safer than temazepam in the short-term, though.  Last night it was mainly because I was concerned that my accidentally long siesta would mess up my treasured new sleep pattern and didn’t want to undo months of work. It took a little longer than my new norm to get to sleep (possibly – it’s really hard to tell), though far less than my old norm, and while I woke up at 7 am, I got back to sleep again.  Having a siesta has meant that I skip the stage of spending the afternoon trying to keep my eyes open, and while I’m still tired and ME-relapsy, I haven’t felt like a dead cat for a few days now.  It seems that I do indeed need this much sleep right now, even if my body has to be cajoled into getting it at the right times.