Do you feel like you have to be “on” all the time? You’re not alone. Our go-go-go society puts so many demands on us: Work, pay bills, raise families, cook, clean, be happy! It’s all… a lot.
In the quest to have it all, we no longer just work from sunup to sundown, we’re “on” around the clock.
So are the lights we use.
From the bright lights in your house, to your glowing electronics, to the streetlights glaring overhead when you’re out running errands after dark…the lights around you are putting in as many hours as you are.
And while a halogen lamp might not have any feelings about all this productivity, you’re a human being and can be excused for feeling a little burnt out by it all. It’s not you: It’s your circadian health and circadian rhythm.
Your outlook and your light are inextricably linked.
Our Bodies, Our Lights
Almost every living thing, from plants to animals to microbes, has a circadian rhythm that regulates cycles in behavior, mind, and body. These rhythms are strongly linked to light and dark in the environment. A simple example is sleep: wake up when it’s light, sleep when it’s dark. Er, wait… is it really that simple?
A hundred years ago, maybe. When the sun wasn’t up, your options were candles or oil lamps and other types of flickering flames to shed some light in the darkness. Now? It might be light outside, but modern electricity lets us really light up our interiors.
This is great when you still have nightly things to get done, but not so great for that inner light--your mood, your outlook, your emotions.
Why, you ask? It’s because the blue light in traditional bulbs mimics sunlight, and when you turn them on long after the sun has set, you can disrupt your natural circadian rhythm. You’re telling your body it’s time to be awake when it’s trying to relax.
The Right Light + The Right Time = Better For You
Blue light at the right time, which is during the day, can help you feel energized, alert, and productive, and it’s good for you and your mood. One university study even links blue light to less stress. If you have short-term stress from an event, like an argument, blue light can actually help you recover and feel relaxed more quickly.
But after the sun has set, you need warm light. This color of light mimics the sunset or candlelight and tells our body it’s time to relax and recover. It also allows our body to release melatonin, the sleep hormone that helps our bodies get ready for bed.
This knowledge about lighting and mood, paves the way for light being a pivotal, therapeutic intervention for overall wellness.
But don’t just take it from us. Dr. Doug Steel, a neuroscientist and translational scientist, has spent the last decade studying the effects of lighting on living organisms and translating his findings into practical applications and phototherapies. He puts the importance of the right light at the right time this way:
“Throughout the day, the body requires consistent, multiple cues to modulate and regulate different hormonal neuronal, and metabolic systems. Proper lighting is an essential part of creating the optimal conditions for our health and well-being.”
Wellness Lighting Explained
Get ready to hear phrases like: ‘wellness lighting’, ‘circadian rhythm lighting’ and ‘clean lighting’ more and more in the conversation around what it means to pursue optimal health.
As Dr. Steel says: “Beyond just brightness and color, we need to consider how all attributes of light including quality, color rendering, flicker, glare, and the timing of exposure are positively or negatively impacting the human body, affecting things such as our alertness, feelings of well-being, productivity, and sleep quality.”
Wellness lighting provides a full spectrum of colors, from cool blue to warm, so you can get the light you need when you need it. You can turn on cool lights to charge up and warm lights to wind down. You’ll feel happier and sleep better, promoting better circadian health and overall mood.