I am definitely ready for summer! This spring has been unusually dreary for New Mexico. I shouldn't complain, it's rain, after all, and we need it. But still... We all know that opening the shades to a drizzly, overcast day doesn't give us the same boost of energy as a sunny morning does. Our mood and productivity changes with the light we are exposed to, whether it is natural daylight or the artificial lighting in our home.
Light is crucial for the body. It regulates the cortisol, serotonin and melatonin levels in the brain. When the retina in our eyes is hit by daylight, it activates light-sensitive nerve cells, which then stimulate the production of serotonin and cortisol. Low levels of serotonin in the body can lead to sleep problems, depression, lack of energy and mood swings. Melatonin is a hormone that has the primary role of helping us sleep. It is secreted only at night in the dark. Too much melatonin in the body can lead to fatigue and depression. Too little, and we have trouble sleeping.
With summer approaching we'll hopefully get to spend more time outdoors and get exposed to more daylight. But the reality is that most of us still spend the majority of the time indoors, at work or school and at home.
So what can we do about it? - Make artificial lighting your ally.
In the morning your brain needs a lot of light to stop melatonin production. The morning sun is white and bright, which actually means that it is in the blue (cold) part of the spectrum. It tells the brain that it’s morning and now the time to be alert. So, light up your morning!
What I really like about dimmers is the fact that they give you control over the mood of a room. In the morning you need light that will invigorate you. Think cool and bright. So, choose a cool color temperature for your bulbs that is fresh and appealing and turn the lights up as much as you can in the morning. At night, when you are getting ready for bed you'll want a soothing, low, preferably warmer light.
Halogen lamps can actually give you all that: If choose a 3500K (cool) halogen lamp that will provide you with a blast of sunshine in the morning and dim it, the color temperature changes and you'll end up with a much warmer tone, more like 2700K, a fitting mood for getting ready to sleep.
Incandescent bulbs also change their color temperature when dimmed, but since they start with a warm 2700K and go warmer from there they don't quite give you the added boost in the morning. Most LEDs lamps you buy don't change color when dimmed, but this feature is definitely in the works and you are beginning to see the first results on the market. LEDs have enormous capabilities with adjustable brightness and color-changing and we are in for a revolution in how we control our lights - and moods - indoors. There were a lot of fascinating examples of this at Lightfair 2015.
High quality LEDs with dynamic color controls can be custom programmed to fit our biological needs from cool bright morning light for energizing to soft, warm light with a calming effect for winding down in the evening. This will make a huge difference on how we feel , whether it is at home, at work, in a tranquil spa or in a restaurant.
While we are planning how to light our surroundings we of course need to look at a lot more than light source, lamping, lux, color temperature etc. The textures, materials and colors of the room play a major role in how the light is absorbed and appears. Rough textures, wood and warm colors absorb a lot of light, especially in the blue spectrum. That's the reason they evoke a feeling of tranquility, coziness and warmth, perfect for relaxation. Light colored surroundings are more energizing, appear fresh and vibrant and reflect white light a lot better.