Lighting is more important than it might seem. Besides being functional, the light fixtures, lamps, and sconces in your home can add style to your abode and create a cozy vibe. But lighting can also affect your emotions in complex ways, impacting everything from your mood to your productivity. Take a look at these seven ways you can use lighting to make your home a happier place.
1. BRIGHT LIGHTING CAN HELP YOU FOCUS.
Although most people dislike living and working under harsh, fluorescent ceiling lights, some type of bright lighting is essential when you need to be alert and focused. Bright light stimulates your brain and increases serotonin levels, which can help you concentrate. So if you’re working from home or paying your bills, make sure your ambient lighting is bright enough to energize you and help you focus. Consider using halogen, LED, or compact fluorescent bulbs in your home.
2. DIMMER SWITCHES CAN IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP.
When it’s dark, your brain’s pineal gland secretes melatonin to promote sleep and regulate your body’s sleep-wake cycle. Spending time in bright light in the evening can interfere with your natural cycle, wreaking havoc on the quality of your sleep and overall health. To help your brain and body wind down in the evening, dim the lights and use energy-efficient light bulbs. Besides using a dimmer switch, try to avoid staring at your devices. Studies have shown that the short-wavelength blue light emitted from phones and computers interferes with your circadian rhythm, making it harder to sleep.
3. TASK LIGHTING CAN HELP YOU AVOID EYE STRAIN.
Whether you’re applying makeup, chopping onions, or reading in bed, task lighting allows you to better see exactly what you’re doing. Having an additional, focused source of light also improves the contrast between the object you’re directing your attention to and the surrounding environment, helping you avoid eye strain and headaches. To achieve ideal task lighting in your home, put a reading lamp on your nightstand and desk, and make sure that your bathroom mirror, kitchen counters, and dining room table are adequately lit.
4. BRIGHT LIGHTING CAN MAKE YOU FEEL WARMER.
According to a series of studies, bright light can make people feel as though they’re warmer, even when the temperature of the room stays the same. So to feel warmer on a cold day, turn on all the lights in your home. But be aware that feeling warmer seems to also heighten whatever emotion you’re feeling, whether it’s happiness, excitement, sadness, or anxiety. When participants were under bright lighting, they rated people as more attractive, reported that they liked spicier sauce on chicken wings, and reacted more strongly to positive and negative words. In other words, the bright light increased the intensity of their emotional response as well as making them feel physically warmer.
5. LETTING IN MORE NATURAL LIGHT CAN STAVE OFF DEPRESSION.
A 2006 report explained the link between sunlight, our circadian rhythms, and mood. People with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) experience depression during the fall and winter months because their serotonin levels drop when there’s less sunlight. Even if you don’t have SAD, less exposure to sunlight can also mess with your melatonin levels and circadian rhythm, causing you to become sleep-deprived and grumpy. To maximize your home’s natural light and keep your serotonin levels up, position mirrors next to or across from windows to bring in sunlight, and clean your windows to let the most sunlight through.
6. ACCENT LIGHTING CAN LET YOU SHOWCASE YOUR FAVORITE THINGS.
Most art museums make ample use of accent lighting to illuminate paintings and sculptures. Even if you don’t have valuable art pieces in your home, you can still use accent lighting to draw people’s eyes to whatever you want to show off—whether that’s a vase, plant, fireplace, or your collection of baseball cards. To highlight your favorite things in your home, consider installing track lighting or mounting picture lights on the wall.
7. CANDLES AND TWINKLE LIGHTS CAN MAKE YOUR HOME COZIER.
To make your home an expression of your personality, taste, and style, get creative with your lighting. Beyond choosing floor and desk lamps in colors and designs that complement your home, consider using additional sources of light such as candles, twinkle lights, night lights, or DIY Mason jar lamps. These decorative light sources can make your home feel cozy, mellow, and warm. Let there be light!