It’s common knowledge among many home designers that the basic components of style have a lot to do with how our minds work. After all, things like color, shape, and texture all have a psychological impact on the brain, making us perceive things in a certain way or feel specific things. Lighting is a particularly important feature that can determine our moods within a space. In fact, it’s one of the most effective ways to promote more energy and increase our overall happiness. But what is it about lighting that has this effect on us and how can we use it to our advantage? This is how light in a room affects your emotions and what to keep in mind while customizing it in your own home.
Understanding the Link Between Light and Emotion
When first paying attention to the correlation between light and our emotional states, it’s easy to think that there isn’t one at all. However, just because we don’t know it’s happening, doesn’t mean it isn’t affecting us in some way. Over the thousands of years of our evolution, the part of the human brain known as the hypothalamus has generated an ability referred to as the circadian rhythm. This function allows the body to respond to its environment depending on the amount of natural light being perceived by the eye. Increased amounts of light tell the mind that it’s the middle of the day, supplying you with more energy and alertness. On the other hand, darker hours tend to trigger sluggishness, preparing your body for rest.
This phenomenon—also known as our internal clocks—is what allows us to maintain some semblance of a physical routine and meet certain physiological needs during specific times. Without it, we would lose the ability to perform key physical functions when we need them the most. Some of the core activities controlled by your circadian rhythm include sleep, wakefulness, digestion, temperature control, overall cell regeneration, and, naturally, your mood.
Characteristics of Light That Influence Emotion
But this isn’t all there is to it. In actuality, the brain picks up on three distinct aspects of light when trying to determine how to make the body react. These factors are what allow our minds to piece together what time of day it is so that it can provide us with the right tools to perform key roles. As such, they’re also crucial to keep in mind when piecing together the atmosphere you want to create in your home.
When it comes to how the light in a room affects your emotions, you’ll probably find that its overall color is what causes the biggest variance. Though we may not consciously perceive it, light sources have different hues that span the entire spectrum from black to white. Each of them triggers specific receptors on our eyes and, likewise, trigger varying reactions in our brains. The most common forms of artificial light, however, are blue, white, and warmer hues.
Saturation—as the overall intensity of the light’s specific color—works to promote additional effects. Light that more directly appears to be white, orange, or blue has a greater chance of evoking stronger emotional reactions than neutral or muted tones. As these colors get closer to grey on the saturation scale, they can even begin dampening certain emotions.
Brightness, on the other hand, is the amount of light given off by a specific light source. The brighter this light is, the more information your eyes are processing as you look at it. This can serve to heighten your emotional state and even start overwhelming you over longer periods of time. For this reason, lower intensity light sources are typically better for maintaining focus and emotional stability.
Common Lighting Effects on Emotion
The above factors work together to send specific signals to your brain, creating different chemical and physiological reactions. But this all happens automatically within the body and the question of how this effect outwardly presents itself still remains. These are some of the more noticeable effects individuals have when exposed to certain types of light.
Natural Light Increases Happiness
Natural light contains the entire spectrum of color, and, as such, fires all of the receptors in your eyes. This causes the brain to produce additional amounts of serotonin—which is linked to a person’s overall feelings of happiness. With more exposure to natural light, people are shown to have an overall better mood and even experience reductions in depression symptoms. Therefore, regardless of how much you enjoy having your beautiful artificial lighting fixtures, it’s vital that you still find ways to incorporate natural lighting into your design as well.
Blue Light Provides Energy
Blue-colored artificial light most often correlates with increased amounts of energy and, as a result, focus. So, when perceiving this type of illumination, you’re likely to feel productive and ready to take on the day’s tasks. However, it’s important to mention that many of our handheld devices also produce blue light. This can confuse our minds and provide us with energy when we otherwise wouldn’t need it. For this reason, it’s highly recommended that you don’t look at your phone right before bed, as this can disrupt your circadian rhythm and prevent you from falling asleep.
Warm Light Creates Relaxation and Comfort
In contrast, warmer-colored lighting soothes the mind and prepares it for decompression and relaxation. This is why red or orange lightbulbs are typically associated with a warm and cozy atmosphere. Warm colors allow the brain to slow down and devote additional resources towards healing and energy production for the following day. Warm light is also known to trigger increased melatonin production in the brain—the chemical responsible for lulling us to sleep. As such, it’s the perfect type to have as you’re winding down at the end of a day and getting ready for bed.
At Bicycle Glass Co., we understand that home lighting isn’t just a matter of design—it’s a crucial part of what makes us feel truly at home. This is why we seek to go above and beyond to produce the highest-quality handmade pendant lighting fixtures you can buy. By dedicating ourselves to this art form, we can provide products that will both accommodate your personal style and create an atmosphere you’ll thrive in. You can find more about how to add natural light to your home here.