How Light Affects Our Mood and Productivity

A lack of light, or too much light, can play a significant role in how we feel.

Tuesday, Mar 10th, 2020

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Light can affect many things in our lives, but did you know that light is a major factor when it comes to your mood? It all has to do with your circadian rhythm—we break down how and why light affects your mood and what you can do about it.

How are our bodies linked to light?

To understand how our bodies are linked to light, it’s important to take a step back and first understand circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm is your 24 hour internal clock that is triggered by light and darkness. That’s why you tend to naturally feel more awake during the day, and get more tired as the day gets darker.

Your circadian rhythm will function best when you get quality sleep and are exposed to the right light at the right time.

However, in an age of stress, over-booked schedules, and exposure to light from screens and devices, it can be difficult to keep your circadian rhythm running at its best. 

How can light impact our mood?

One major thing that your circadian rhythm can impact, besides sleep, is mood. According to one study, even just a slight change in your circadian rhythm can impact your mood.

The first way that light can impact mood is by not getting enough light. For example, Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, often appears in the winter when the days are shorter and the light isn’t as strong. SAD is characterized by a more depressed mood and sadness. This is thought to be due to a change in melatonin secretion. When it’s bright in the morning, your body learns to stop the secretion of melatonin, leading to a more awake feeling. In the winter, however, that melatonin secretion may slightly continue throughout the day because it’s not bright enough in the morning for your body to receive the signal to stop secreting it.

The second way that light can influence mood is through circadian disruption, meaning you’re exposed to light at the wrong times, which can change your sleep and alter your hormone production. The majority of the population is exposed to artificial light (phones, computers, etc.) for long periods of time at night. This can make it harder to fall asleep or decrease your sleep quality. Research has found that about 50-90% of depressed patients report poor sleep quality. 

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How can light impact our productivity?

Because lighting can play a role in our mood, it can also be linked to our productivity levels.

During the day, exposure to cool, bright light can improve your mood, lower melatonin production (which is responsible for fatigue), and increase alertness - leading to an increase in productivity. 

Warm light, on the other hand, is the soft, dim light you’re exposed to in the evening. This type of light can cause lower levels of productivity, as you’re more likely to feel fatigued due to your natural circadian rhythm, and the natural increase of the hormone melatonin associated with dim light. 

How can you use light to improve your mood and productivity?

If you’re looking to take steps to improve your mood and productivity through lighting, there are some steps you can take.

First, start by reducing your electronics use at night. This will help your circadian rhythm get into it’s natural cycle and prevent sleep disruption, leading to better quality sleep and an improved mood overall.

Secondly, you can use light bulbs to enhance your mood. Brilli’s Charge Up collection features healthy wavelengths of blue light, to keep you awake and focused throughout the day. Try using these bulbs first thing in the morning and in your desk lamp to boost levels of productivity throughout the day.

On the other hand, Brilli’s Wind Down collection is designed for rooms where you spend your evening hours. These bulbs imitate soft evening light, to help your body naturally unwind and prepare for sleep.