Change your lighting, change your mood

Psychologists and designers alike have long understood the importance of color, and its potential to affect our sense of wellbeing. Psychologists recognize the significance of, and use, color in a variety of ways in therapeutic situations. These range from choosing the design of the therapy environment, to utilizing it in visualization exercises and recommendations for self-comforting strategies. In interior design clever use of color involves selecting color palettes to suit the personality of the client and the dominant feel they wish to have for each part of their living space.

However, no-one wants their living, or working, environment to have the same feel at all times. There may be occasions when you’re feeling down and need to perk yourself up. Or maybe you’re having a party and wish to increase the energy of a usually calm and tranquil setting. Obviously, it’s not practical to change your décor every time you want to change the mood in your environment. That’s where lighting comes in. Research into lighting on mood is still an emerging and growing field, but so far there have been some very compelling results. Interestingly, some studies conducted with blind participants have still shown statistically significant results, indicating the effect works at a neural rather than visual level.

Low mood and Seasonal Affective Disorder

Many of us are prone to attacks of low mood. In the winter months, for some people, the problem can worsen into Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This form of depression can ruin a significant portion of the year for those affected, leading to low energy, low mood and generalized apathy. A major cause of this is thought to be the lack of natural light during the shorter days of the winter months. Vitamin D supplements are recommended (taken with calcium to increase absorption), but one of the biggest factors in relieving SAD symptoms has been shown to be replacing the lost light. There are specialist SAD lights available, and for acute symptoms these are recommended, but it has also been found to be beneficial to replace lightbulbs with daylight mimicking bulbs wherever possible.

Blue toned lights have been shown as the best color to increase alertness, and even have a calming effect, when used early in the day. But, be warned, they are not recommended in the letter half of the day if sleep disturbance is an issue. This includes the light from electrical devices such as televisions computers and smartphones, so limit their use before bed if sleeping is an issue. Dominant theories at this time suggest turning off all electrical devices for two hours before attempting to sleep.

Chill out, relax and set the mood

Red lights, despite the historically odd connotations have a variety of benefits. In a social environment, red toned lighting is said to stimulate conversation and interaction, so it’s ideal for theming parties and gatherings around. However, and somewhat counterintuitively, red lighting has also been shown to reduce disruption to sleep patterns so it’s also ideal for nightlights or if you are prone to waking in the middle of the night.

To create a peaceful and calming atmosphere, or to diffuse an emotionally charged situation, green is the color of choice. Reflecting the hues of nature, green toned lighting is capable of creating a deep sense of tranquility and wellbeing. For stimulating intellectual creativity and focus, consider using a purple toned light. The combination of the effects of blue light and red light wavelengths is perfect for provoking creative thought, alertness and concentration.

As you can see, different lighting options can be used in multiple ways. It’s important to experiment with tone and brightness as well as just color. Clever use of lampshades, dimmers and filters can drastically alter the effects. Research has shown there an optimal brightness level to reap the benefits of the colored light. Too little and even the best color choices may have an energy sapping effect, too bright and people may become agitated and lack focus.

For safety reasons it is important never to cover an electric light in order to change its color, as this may create a fire hazard. Always equipment approved for use with electric light. With so many options out there, the choice can be confusing and research is needed. Visit to start your search for reviews of some of the best lighting options.

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