Want Better Mental Performance? Find the Right Light
Don’t be in the dark about how important it is to find the right light. Research suggests that your mental state during everyday activities can be improved by simply tweaking the way you illuminate your surroundings.
WHEN YOU NEED TO FOCUS
Taking a test? A study shows that swapping “warm,” yellowish-white lighting for “cool,” bluish-white indoor lighting (which mimics natural sunlight) might improve your academic performance.
South Korean researchers had fourth-grade students take a math exam under different lighting scenarios: warm, 3500 K (a unit that measures correlated color temperature on the Kelvin scale), or cool, 6500 K. Students saw the best results when working with 6500 K lights, suggesting that this kind of lighting might enhance your cognitive state if you’re tackling a difficult assignment.
WHEN IT’S TIME TO RELAX
Warmer, red-toned lights are your best bet here, according to the same study. The researchers found that while “cooler” lighting improved alertness and focus, “warm” lighting helped students feel more relaxed and at ease—making the lighting ideal for low-stress activities or interactions with their peers.
WHEN YOU’RE CHANNELING YOUR INNER CREATIVE GENIUS
Research suggests that low lighting makes you feel more creative. In 2013, German researchers split 114 college students into groups of two to three, separated them by lighting conditions (dim, office-level, and bright), and asked them solve an assortment of problems that required creative thinking. Sure enough, groups that were exposed to darker conditions solved more problems than participants in other groups—and they reported feeling "free from constraints” more frequently, too.