Does light affect mood?

Yes! It does. Let’s learn how light affects mood.

It’s extremely likely that you’re reading this in a darkened room with the lights turned on. Most individuals spend the most of their days in confined rooms, bathed in a combination of artificial and natural light. However, while artificial light has provided mankind with innumerable opportunities, it has also generated some confusion in our bodies, which have developed through thousands of years to respond to the stimulus of sunshine during the day and darkness at night. This sensitivity to natural light is known as the circadian rhythm or cycle, and it defines the 24-hour biological cycle of nearly all living things. Circadian rhythms are primarily regulated by light, but temperature and other stimuli also play a role.

Our natural clock is located in the hypothalamus, a portion of the brain that is linked to photoreceptors placed throughout the body (such as the retina). These sensors are in charge of keeping our internal clock in sync with the light we absorb during the day. Understanding the circadian cycle is critical since it controls human body rhythms such as sleep, emotion, wakefulness, digestion, temperature management, and even cell renewal. According to research, enough lighting boosts mood and energy levels, but inadequate lighting contributes to depression and other deficits in the body. The quantity and quality of lighting have a direct impact on focus, hunger, mood, and many other elements of daily living.

But how can we have a healthy circadian rhythm when we spend the majority of our time in places that are filled with artificial light? Or if checking our phones is the last thing we do before bed and the first thing we do when we wake up? How can architects use lighting to support healthy circadian cycles and, consequently, healthier living? Artificial light should be used to mimic natural daylight cycles, according to researchers. Brighter and brighter lights are advised for use in the morning and during the day, while dimmer lights are advised for use at night. Contrary arrangements can generate a perplexing circadian rhythm, disrupt our sleep cycles, or result in less energy during the day.

A University of Toronto study revealed the importance of light strength, demonstrating that bright lights “intensify our first emotional reaction to a stimulus” and that “its impacts can be both good and negative.”

The color temperature of light has a significant impact on the human body as well. The greater the color temperature, as measured in Kelvin (K), the brighter and colder the light will be. In this situation, ‘warm’ and ‘cold’ relate to the tone or color of the light rather than the physical heat of the bulb. Warm lights make a space feel more welcome and calming, but cooler lights make an atmosphere feel more stimulating – they make us feel more attentive, focused, and can enhance productivity levels. Blue light is also thought to lower levels of the sleep-related hormone melatonin, making us feel more awake.

Because computers and mobile screens emit a lot of blue light, that last email check before bed can make our sleep less restful. However, when used wisely, blue light can be great for settings where the mind must perform at full capacity, such as meeting rooms, industrial kitchens, and even factories, where intense concentration is anticipated.

Yellow tones (at the bottom of the color spectrum) are associated with sunset and dawn, when the body is more relaxed. This makes a lot of sense when we consider that until recently, humans were only exposed to low-intensity lights at night, such as the moon and fire. Weak, indirect, and warm lighting tends to quieten spaces and soothe people. Although this is not a good option for a professional atmosphere that requires efficiency and productivity, it could be useful in a restaurant, a rest space, or a bedroom.

Experts agree that utilizing sunlight during the day and avoiding direct exposure to cold or blue light before bedtime can improve sleep quality and positively affect people’s well-being and productivity. And, while it’s impossible to control the lighting in all of the environments and spaces we’ll inhabit, being aware of the effects of lighting on our bodies can make us reconsider some of the decisions we’d otherwise make in a heartbeat – whether it’s buying that lamp on sale in the supermarket, or even just checking our phone one last time before bed.