Ever feel “not quite yourself” when there’s a lack of light, but can’t quite put your finger on it? Ever notice how your mood seems to improve when you’re in a brighter room? This isn’t your imagination. Studies have shown that light levels do in fact affect our disposition. But how does light affect your mood, and how can you adjust the lighting in your home to improve it?
Low Light = Low Mood?
As mentioned above, low light levels do indeed affect how you feel. While I won’t throw a bunch of science-y terms your way, there are a few terms you should become familiar with: melatonin and serotonin.
Melatonin is vital in controlling your sleeping and waking patterns and is typically highest around bedtime, while serotonin affects many functionalities, such as sleep, appetite, memory, mood, and depression. Specifically, serotonin has a hand in affecting your happiness.
There are both psychological and physiological side effects linked to poor lighting. For example, poor light conditions can impact the amount of melatonin that’s produced, therefore creating an imbalance within your body: the more melatonin that’s produced, the levels of serotonin decrease, as more serotonin is converted to melatonin. So in poorly lit rooms, melatonin levels may be higher, which can cause you to feel depressed and drowsy.
On the contrary, higher levels of light can get your body back in balance, increasing your levels of serotonin and are sometimes even used as a therapy to alleviate common emotional issues.
In what ways can you boost the mood in your home? Does this mean you have to transform your home into the surface of the sun so you’ll be cheery all the time? Not quite. Below are a few ways to brighten things up and make the most of your new-found knowledge of serotonin and melatonin:
- Since bright light can actually give you more energy and increase alertness, it’s recommended to either dim the lights or use warmer color temperatures (2700K to 3000K) to wind down in the evenings.
- If you’re looking to boost your mood, consider switching to full spectrum light bulbs (5000K), as these types of bulbs mimic natural light. If you’re not a fan of bulbs with this color temperature, try some cool white bulbs with color temperatures between 4000K and 4100K.
- Do you like your current lineup of bulbs just the way they are and don’t want to trade them out? Try opening some blinds. The influx of natural light will have almost the same effect as the full-spectrum bulbs.