(MS) – Want to improve your mood, productivity and general well-being? Consider turning on a light. The psychological effects of lighting have long been a subject of study. It has been documented that the intensity and quality of light can impact the psychological and physiological well-being of a person, affecting daily mood.
The Mayo Clinic says that a lack of adequate lighting can make people feel depressed. That’s because light deprivation can affect the production of the hormone melatonin, leading to physiological imbalances. An abundance of light can get bodily systems back in check and also may be an alternative therapy for common emotional issues.
Lighting is such an important factor in mood that even stores and businesses study the impact certain lighting can have on people and their impression of a space. In fact, lighting design is an art and a science. Lighting designers must have an understanding of the visual quality users of a space need for their health, safety and enjoyment.
The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America lists the basic body of knowledge on lighting in the IESNA Handbook. It includes summaries of recommended practices based on research and consensus of successful lighting for specific applications. But individuals don’t need an extensive knowledge of lighting principles to improve their own interior lighting situations. Instead, a cursory understanding of what works can do the trick. Here are some things to consider.
•• People are attracted to light. If lighting is necessary for safety, brighter illumination will guide the way.
•• Brightness focuses personal attention on a particular object or area.
•• To create a more pleasant atmosphere, use wall lighting instead of overhead lighting in a space.
•• In public spaces or areas where individuals need to be alert, overhead lighting is the best option.
•• Dim lighting is best for rooms in which relaxation is desired. That is why table lamps are often used with a shade to diffuse the light.
•• Homes typically need a combination of lighting sources. An overhead light paired with ambient light and task lighting can help most people get things done.
•• According to light bulb manufacturer Sylvania, think in terms of layering light. Light sources should be placed at different heights throughout a room to supply adequate illumination as well as visual interest.
•• For those who want to boost mood, consider full-spectrum light bulbs that mimic the spectrum of outdoor light.
•• Another easy remedy (during the day) is to simply let more outdoor light in. Keep blinds open wide, especially those that face west and south. Bedrooms with windows facing the east may help people rise with the sun. Skylights can help light shine indoors when the sun is directly overhead. There are also sun tubes that help direct sunlight into rooms under an attic where traditional skylights cannot be installed.
Remember, bright light can energize a person, so it is important to wind down from a long day by dimming the lights and preparing for sleep in the evening.
Individuals often take light for granted and only realize something is off kilter when their homes are not adequately lit. There are different ways to remedy inadequate lighting situations. Speaking with a lighting designer may help.