Light goes far beyond just helping us see and get around each day. You may not realize it, but light affects your ability to function and process brain chemicals. Without predictable light patterns, your bodily cycles may become confused, causing your mood and well-being to decline.
Do you suspect your physical or mental health suffers from poor lighting in your home? Luckily, you can make a few simple updates to your lights and lifestyle to boost your mood and improve your well-being. We’ve listed tips and tricks to help you get started.
Lighting for Better Sleep
When people think about improving their sleep hygiene, they often jump to caffeine reduction and luxury mattresses. However, your home’s lighting can significantly affect how well you do (or don’t) catch some Z’s.
The following sections include home lighting tips to help you sleep at night.
Assess Your Sleep Cycle
Your sleep cycle is a crucial part of the body’s circadian rhythm that helps you naturally function on a 24-hour schedule. Your body’s internal clock responds to external stimuli like light and temperature to adjust physical responses and activity levels. Light tells your body it’s time to wake up and be alert. On the other hand, darkness initiates feelings of sleepiness and rest through melatonin production.
The less light surrounding your body, the more melatonin your brain produces, leading to tiredness. If you keep overhead lights or bright lamps on in the evening, your body might not produce the melatonin needed to fall asleep. Assess your sleep schedule and the lighting you regularly use during wind-down hours. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, lights could be the culprit.
One simple way to update your lighting for better sleep is to install dimmer switches. Dimmer switches allow you to adjust the brightness of overhead lighting with a slidable bar instead of a traditional light switch. Some dimmer switches are remote or smartphone-controlled, so you can change your lighting right from your resting place.
This tutorial from Home Depot shows how to install a dimmer switch in your home:
Choose the Right Temperature
Many of the electronic devices we use daily emit a type of LED light called blue light. Its high-frequency wavelength produces a similar effect to white sunlight, which tells our bodies it’s time to wake up.
Staring at blue light-emitting objects while trying to sleep is counterproductive; the wavelengths tell your body to suppress melatonin production. For this reason, you should limit the use of phones, tablets, and computers for at least 30 minutes before bed.
Some bedside LED lamps also produce blue light, making it harder to fall asleep after winding down in bed with a book. Avoid confusing your internal clock by using red lights for nighttime relaxation. Red lights produce long wavelengths that have minimal effect on the body’s sleep-wake cycle. This red book lamp from Amazon is excellent for nighttime reading and tasks.
If you spend most of your time before bed in a particular room, consider replacing overhead lights with blue light-free bulbs. Doing so will eliminate some of your blue light exposure before bed, giving you a shot at better sleep.
Integrate Smart Lighting Tools
Smart home lighting can be a functional tool for improving your sleep schedule. Many smart LED bulbs come with Wi-Fi capabilities, turning your smartphone or voice into a controller. Smart bulbs also include colored lighting features, allowing you to adjust the temperature to complement your sleep-wake cycle.
Program your overhead lights to turn blue when your alarm clock goes off. This will help your body wake up with the help of high-frequency lighting. Waking up naturally will likely yield better energy levels throughout the day. Likewise, program the bulbs to produce dim, warm light at night for deeper relaxation and the surge of melatonin you need for deep sleep.
Consider Light Therapy
Integrating light therapy tools like light boxes in your home can improve sleep hygiene. Light therapy helps some people up their energy levels by creating a reliable daily sleep cycle. The process involves exposing yourself to bright lighting for 30 minutes to an hour after waking up each morning. With enough practice, light therapy can boost serotonin production and alertness in the daytime, allowing the body to wind down naturally come evening.
Read this article from the Mayo Clinic to learn more about how light therapy can improve symptoms of depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Lighting for Improved Focus and Productivity
Now you know how to create a calming environment with lighting – but what if you need to get work done without dozing off? Next, we discuss ways to develop a focus-friendly space with lighting.
Natural light is your best friend when creating focus-friendly environments. Exposure to natural light triggers the release of serotonin, a brain chemical proven to enhance mood and sharpen focus. This factor is critical if you work from home full-time or spend most of your daylight hours in a home office. Enhance your productivity by opening the blinds and letting light flow in. On nice weather days, open your windows to welcome in as much light and fresh air as possible.
Temperature and Lumens Matter
If you live in a space with low access to natural light, you can turn to artificial lights to boost your mood and focus. When selecting light sources for your workspace, the key is to mimic the color and intensity of natural sunlight as closely as possible. To do this, choose a color temperature between 3,600 and 5,000 Kelvins (K). These shades are in the range of white light produced by the sun, making them the best for improving productivity.
Another factor to consider when choosing your work light is its lumen output. Lumens measure the amount of light coming from a source. The fewer lumens a light has, the dimmer it will be. The more lumens a light has, the more intense and bright it appears. For a work lamp, you want light bulbs with enough lumens to help you focus and complete your tasks. Seek lighting with approximately 6,000-8,000 lumens for your work area.
This Dimunt LED Floor Lamp is a good choice for your home workspace. It has adjustable white lighting ranging from 3,000K-6,000K, allowing you to tweak the temperature to your workflow needs. It has a 2,350-lumen output, so you may need to buy a couple of lamps depending on the room size.
Layer Your Lighting
If you tend to complete work when it’s dark outside, you should layer your indoor lighting to balance out intensity. This means using surrounding ambient lighting in addition to your bright, concentrated table lamp. Your eyes will thank you for using this simple trick, and you’ll likely have less trouble falling asleep after completing your tasks.
Steer Clear of Shadows
In addition to layering your lighting, try to minimize the shadows around your work area. Shadows contrast with the brightness of intense lamps, giving your eyes a workout. Snuff out shadows and reduce eye strain by adding extra lights around the space.
Lighting Your Way to Wellness
We hope this guide helps you find the right lighting for every part of your daily life. With intentional lighting choices in your home, you’ll boost your mood, improve your sleep hygiene, and tackle tasks no matter the time.
Ready to use lighting to boost your home design, too? Explore our list of the best outdoor lighting ideas.
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