The NASA Sleep Promoting Light Bulb

“Sleep well, astronauts,” this sleep-enhancing bulb says from Houston Control. Few endorsements of any product carry the heft of “NASA,” and if NASA suggests that this light bulb promotes sleep, well then who are we Hughes Brothers to argue. We’re told by the seller, the specialized gift-givers over at Hammacher Schlemmer, that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration uses the bulb “to help astronauts sleep in peace.” Indeed if anyone were deserving of eight solid hours of easy sleep, it would be our nation’s intrepid space travelers.

The Hughes Brothers offer you this review, for adults with sleep difficulties as well as for younger people with ASD.

Our friend, melatonin.

The theory behind the bulb involves the production of melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep.


Typical light bulbs emit high levels of short-wavelength blue light that suppresses melatonin. By filtering out the blue light – up to a fifty percent reduction claims HS – the NASA bulb encourages a better night’s sleep. As with so many products developed in NASA labs, a patent covers the filter. Typical use of the bulb would call for a half-hour’s reading or crossword solving by the light of the bulb in a bedside lamp, maintaining the body’s natural circadian rhythm, leading to falling asleep faster and waking more refreshed. (The nine-watt LED gives off the same light as a 65-watt incandescent – perfect light for reading – but lasts, we’re told, up to sixteen times longer.) A lifetime guarantee from Hammacher Schlemmer accompanies the bulb. Whether sleep improves or not.

“Not a bad bulb,” says Mike Hughes.

Mike, the youngest of the Hughes boys, confronts insomnia occasionally after long power-hours at his NASA-strength computer. He used the bulb to “pretty good” effect. “The first couple of nights, the bulb produced no noticeable results. But I persisted, and by week’s end I was most definitely sleeping better. And longer. Far less of the tossing and turning that has bothered me for several years now.”

Two of us older brothers fared even better. Dave Hughes reported “dramatic improvement,” Dave even more sleep-deprived than our little brother. “My first night using the bulb I slept nine hours, waking only once, and then just because of the neighbor’s damn barking dog.” Even loud-mouthed Barky, however, could not prevent our drowsy brother from falling almost immediately back to sleep.

Big bladders help. They really, really do.

James Hughes owns the biggest bladder in the family – hell, in the whole town – and he has heretofore escaped the thrice-nightly pees that plague the continuity of brother John Howard Hughes’ otherwise workable slumber. So James did fall asleep faster, he thinks, over the course of a week’s use, while John – who has always been first to fall asleep – found the bulb no help in countering the urges of a urinary tract he refuses to keep free of evening Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Some sleep problems simply can’t be helped without a fifty-or-so-watt increase in willpower.

Our friends, the holistic medicine crowd.

We Hughess know of friends, consumers of holistic medical care, who first used the bulb because of its non-pharmaceutical nature. Unfortunately, a couple of those folks report no help at all, not in the quickness or the quality or the duration, of their sleep. From our experience, both personal and reported, the bulb does bat at least .750 in a very tough league.

And, its sleep-inducing properties aside, everyone agrees that the soft radiance of the bulb’s light could not be warmer, nor more soothing. One of the Hughes wives mentioned that her complexion had never looked better.

A bit pricey – the cost not a deal-breaker, but a consideration.

Oh, at forty bucks the bulb is a bit pricey. Should it work as intended, however, it will quickly pay for itself with money saved on other, consumable sleep aids. And a final note: the bulb need not be used alone; in conjunction with other sleep stimulators, a very workable package might be discovered.