Proper lighting is paramount to productivity—and more! Without light where and when you need it, you risk certain physical and emotional problems. In addition to straining eyes and headaches, you may also suffer from depression.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is one type of depression directly linked to light exposure, or lack thereof. People experience SAD during the autumn and winter months, when the days are notoriously short and the sunlight is brief.
Since the body is receiving less light, it produces less serotonin and more of the sleep hormone melatonin. This hormone imbalance may result in
- Lethargy and agitation
- Loss of interest
- Altered appetite or weight
- The feeling of hopelessness
However, these feelings are not confined to the winter months. Whenever you receive less light than your body needs, you can suffer from hormone imbalances and depressive moods.
Bad lighting can also increase the risk of accidents, especially while working. If you spend most of your time indoors, you want to be conscientious of the light you’re exposed to.
What to Check
How can you determine if the lighting you’re receiving at home is good for your body? Take time to check your bulbs for the following:
- is multiple tones, it can be distracting and annoying. This tends to happen after several bulbs have been replaced. Make sure the old and the new bulbs are the same type.
CRI rating — The color rendering index stands for the bulb’s ability to display accurate colors. LEDs are known to deceive the eyes into seeing a different color from reality. This confusion happens because LEDs are not full-spectrum light sources, meaning they
- Color temperature — Are all the bulbs in your room the same type and color temperature? Never pair a soft orange light with a sharp blue. If the lighting in your room lack certain wavelengths of light. LEDs are particularly deficient in red wavelength, turning the color dull or brown. CRI is rated on a scale with 100 being the highest score, with the greatest color rendering. Most bulbs have a CRI of 80. If your bulbs have a below-average score, you may want to upgrade.
- Output strength — Quantity is an important aspect of your bulbs. If they are not emitting enough light, they’re failing their main objective. The strength of LED bulbs is not determined by wattage as the strength of traditional bulbs. LEDs are more efficient and emit more light per watt than incandescent bulbs. Because of this, manufacturers use a wattage equivalency value. For example, a 10W incandescent bulb may be marked as “60W equivalent,” meaning it can replace and maintain the lighting strength of a 60W incandescent bulb.
- Light distribution — Check the harshness of the lighting being distributed around your room. The position and placement of your light need to mimic the distribution of natural daylight to be most effective. We are most accustomed to natural light spreading out from above us. Most light bulbs do the exact opposite, emitting concentrated light in only one area. This sharp pinpoint of light can be unpleasant. Try using several low-brightness bulbs instead. If not possible, try pointing lamps and fixtures to shine against the wall or ceiling, and bounce back.
- Quality control — Two bulbs with the exact same color temperature may be tinted differently depending on the quality of the bulb. High-end lighting manufacturers carefully balance green and pink hues to create a color that is neither one nor the other.
Artificial VS. Natural Lighting in the Home
Although the tips we just discussed apply only to artificial lighting, you should also be sure to include sources of natural lighting in your home. Sunlight has numerous health benefits.
In fact, natural light is the best cure for seasonal depression. Increase natural light in your home in the following ways:
- Keep your windows clean — Dirty windows disrupt the amount of light coming through. You may not even notice how dirty your windows have become until you attempt to clean them. If you can, clean both the inside and outside.
- Use light-colored window treatments — If using a window treatment, keep it light. Don’t use dark curtains or blinds, and if you do have curtains, make sure to open them in the daytime.
- Use reflective decor — Certain metallic and glossy decor reflects light. Of course, you may also place a mirror opposite a window to catch the glow of the sun.
- Strategically place furniture — Tables, desks, couches, chairs, and more should not be blocking the window. Instead, organize your furniture to flank the incoming sun rays. Be conscientious of glare, however, as the sun sets.
Other Helpful Resources
Light is important to regulate your bodily functions. If you spend most of your time indoors, it’s important to incorporate both natural lighting and quality artificial lighting to ensure your health and safety.
And our article Ambient and Task Lighting: How to Use Them at Home provides more specific pointers on the two paramount types of indoor lighting. Equipped with these tips, you can make better life decisions that affect your health and mood.