The lighting in your bedroom or the other parts of your home are not just decorative. Considering the fact that humans gather information through sight more than our other senses, it should come as no surprise that light affects us in a bunch of different ways. With the correct lighting, you can positively influence not just the ambience, but also your own mood, emotions, and even how awake or sleepy you feel when inside your bedroom.
Blue Light Can Make it Harder to Sleep
Any type of light can interfere with sleep. But in 2015, a Harvard study has found that light from the blue spectrum (particularly light from electronic devices) is especially good at shifting our circadian rhythm – the biological clock that dictates sleep and wakefulness.
When exposed to blue light, test subjects produced a lot less melatonin as compared to when they were exposed to green light with the same brightness. Melatonin is one of the primary hormones that instigate the onset of sleep, and suppressing its production can lead to delayed or interrupted sleep.
Harvard doctors advise not looking at bright electronic screens at least 2 hours before bedtime. And in terms of bedroom design, you should use warm, dim colors at night because warmer colors (especially red) has the least power to suppress melatonin and interfere with your natural circadian rhythm.
During the day, however, feel free to get as much hard, bright light as you comfortably can. Opening the curtains and letting the sun in when you wake up can elevate not just your mood, but also your level of alertness in the morning.
Hard Light is for Action; Soft Light is for Relaxation
Apart from the color of your lights, you also need to consider how your bedroom lighting is dissipated. In a nutshell, you should aim to copy the dissipation of natural light: hard light, like the sun, promotes alertness, while soft light, like the moon, can put you in a relaxed mood.
Have you ever noticed how fast food restaurants and convenience stores use a lot of hard light? That’s because you’re not supposed to linger in those places; subtly, the message is for you to just do your business and get out so the next customer can do theirs.
Meanwhile, in upscale restaurants or hotels, you’ll see more soft light than hard. And that’s because these are places that you’re encouraged to linger in. The lights play into the whole dynamic of providing a relaxing atmosphere and ambience.
You can use these same lighting philosophies not just in your bedroom, but in your entire home as well. Use hard lights for when you’re working on dinner in the kitchen; use soft lights for when you’re actually eating in the dining room. Your bedroom’s hard, ceiling light is for when you’re working at your desk, and your soft lamp lights and wall sconces are for when you’re getting ready for bed.
Zero Light is Better for Sleep
Optimum lighting isn’t just about the electronic lights in your home. Darkness or the lack of light is just as important as light itself. In fact, like using the bed only for sex and sleep, sleeping in total darkness is a cheap and doctor-recommended way to sleep better.
Remember: the less light you’re exposed to, the better your body produces melatonin. If you want your bedroom’s lighting to contribute to better sleep, dimming the lights and not exposing yourself to electronic screens before bed are good ways to start. The perfect way to finish, however, is by sleeping in complete and total darkness.
Install curtains or curtain liners that can completely block out outside light. You can also try wearing an eye mask to sleep. If you absolutely have to have a night light during bedtime, make sure to choose one that’s red, orange, or yellow to minimize the suppression of melatonin production.
There you have it: the effects of light on our mood, sleepiness, and alertness are both psychological and physiological. And now that you know which types of light affect us in which ways, you can better design the lighting in your home and bedroom to fit your specific needs.