Who couldn’t use a few more hours (or even minutes) of extra sleep, or better sleep overall? We should all go to bed earlier, but sometimes that’s not realistic. Couple our poor bedtime habits with the fact many of us are glued to our screens (being bombarded with blue light that stimulates the brain and disrupts sleep) and we’re not doing ourselves any favours.
What’s up with sleep light, wake light?
There are ways to fight off these sleep disruptors; one of them is to change your light bulbs. Yes, by matching your body’s natural circadian rhythms to different colours of light, you can help you body stay properly in sync, and possibly even stay healthier.
I recently received samples of several lights from the company Lighting Science. These lights are specifically created to compensate for the problems that the wrong lighting can create.
First, let’s understand a bit about light. Though it doesn’t seem like it, light comes in different colours. (And for you science-y types out there, bear with me, I’m going to oversimplify.)
I love this explanation from EagleLight.com: “A simple way to think about this is to compare the light from the sun from sunrise to sunset. At noon the light is bright and white, even more so nearer the equator. At sunrise and sunset the light takes on a more yellow or even red tint.”
So then, bright noon-time light is whiter and even has a bluish cast, while as the sun rises or sets, it takes on a warmer, yellower hue. White-blue light makes us want to get moving, work and be active, while as the sun dims to orange-yellow, we wind down. We’ve evolved that way because back in caveman days, we had to live life by the cycles of the sun.
Back to light bulbs… because we’ve developed light bulbs, things like florescent light and computer screens, our natural body cycles are being disrupted by their light. But you can help them return to normal by choosing certain colours of light, at appropriate times.
The right light for day – Lighting Science GoodDay bulb
To stimulate the brain and get your mind into work mode, blue-white light is effective. I tried out the Lighting Science GoodDay bulb. With a bluish cast, Lighting Science says it’s “the only biologically-correct LED lighting solution proven to give you more energy, promote alertness and enhance performance with our patented, stimulating blue-enhanced spectrum.”
Indeed, the light has a subtle but noticeable tinge, not unlike that of a compact fluorescent bulb. I used it in my desk lamp while I was working and I did find that I enjoyed the effect. There were several days I should have had a nap instead of working on projects, but with the lamp on I was able to power through — without coffee. I guess the effect could be psychological… but I’ll take it.
The right light for night – Lighting Science GoodNight bulb
There’s also a GoodNight LED light bulb, which has a more orangey-yellow tone. That warmer hue of light is meant to signal to your brain and your body that it’s time to gear down and ready for sleep.
On the science side, that yellow cast is said to trigger your body’s natural melatonin production – a hormone necessary for a good night sleep. Both the daytime and the nighttime bulbs were actually developed for NASA for use by astronauts on the International Space Station.
Genesis lamp adjusts to day or night
I also tried Lighting Science’s Genesis lamp. It’s pricey at $179USD, but that might be because it has the ability to project both blue and yellow light, and can adjust what type of light you need via an app (Apple only for now). You input your bedtime and wake up time and the light can automatically adjust to project the right colour of light according to your schedule.
In testing, I found myself turning on the lamp in my home office when it was time to work, enjoying the brightness and the feeling of wakefulness it gave me. The lamp turns easily on and off with a finger tap on the base. Other functions are controlled with the app, such as dimming, and colour adjustment/override.
One problem I did have with the Genesis lamp is that it gets extremely hot while operating. So hot I wasn’t comfortable leaving the house with it on. I’m not sure why it would heat to this degree, but I didn’t like that aspect of it.
In short, I really enjoyed the effect these bulbs seemed to have on my productivity. If you want better sleep, or being more alert during the day, I’d definitely recommend trying coloured day & night bulbs to your work and sleep spaces.
The Good Day and Good Night bulbs sell for $24 USD while the Genesis Lamp is $179 USD. You can find them all at Lighting Science’s website.