There are two general types of light colors we encounter when talking about indoor lighting: soft white and daylight.
While both have their benefits, there is one key difference between them that can impact your sleep schedule. In this post, we will explore the difference between the two and where one may be a better choice for you than the other.
LED Lights For Sleep
Literally put, LED lights that give off a red colored light are the best for sleep.
If you’re curious as to why, keep reading or skip to the section about daylight.
Now, unless you’re a professional photographer, you’re probably not going to feel all that great in a room that only has red lighting so go with a soft white LED light instead.
But first; “How do I know if the light is soft white or daylight?”
When buying light bulbs or LED lights, you’ll find some numbers on the packaging or in product description. Other than the obvious ones like power (W) and brightness (lm), you might see some numbers like 2700K (warm or soft white) or 6500K (cool white or daylight), this is known as color temperature.
Color temperature is a way of describing the light appearance provided by a light bulb.
“Ok, but what does the K mean?”
The Kelvin scale is used to measure color temperature. Kelvin is a unit of measurement for describing absolute temperature. It comes from the Latin word Kelvinius and it means ” derivation of absolute zero.” The Kelvin color temperature scale runs from 1000K (warmest) to 10,000K (coolesallt).
Yes, you read that last part right, the lower number on the temperature scale actually means the light is warmer…. go figure.
Color temperatures over 5,000K are called “cool colors” (blueish white), while lower color temperatures (2,700–3,000 K) are called “warm colors” (yellowish white through red). Color temperatures can appear different depending on the surrounding colors. For example, a blue object will appear whiter when placed next to something yellow than it would under neutral-colored surroundings.
Good examples of different Kelvin temperatures are given by different types of light:
- A standard household incandescent bulb emits light with a color temperature of about 2,700K, which we perceive as warm, soft, and relaxing
- Mid-day sunlight has a color temperature of about 5500K and appears very bright blue/white (hence the name daylight for bulbs with this temperature)
- Candlelight has a temperature of around 1800K and gives off a very warm color
The affect of light color temperature on our bodies
Have you ever noticed how different light settings can affect your mood?
For example, natural sunlight tends to make us feel energetic and alert, while dim lighting can make us feel relaxed and even sleepy. This is because light color temperature plays a big role in how our bodies and minds respond.
Generally speaking, cooler tones of light (such as blue and white) tend to be energizing, while warmer tones (such as yellow and orange) tend to be calming. This is why many people prefer to use cool-toned lighting during the daytime, and warm-toned lighting in the evening.
But why is this? One reason has to do with the blue light that daylight contains.
Blue light is visible light at the blue end of the visible spectrum. It has a shorter wavelength and a higher frequency than other colors of light. Blue light is scattered more in the atmosphere than other colors because it travels in shorter, smaller waves.
This means that blue light reaches our eyes more directly than other colors, making it seem brighter to us. Blue light also suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that makes us feel sleepy. So when we are exposed to blue light in the evening, it can make it harder for us to fall asleep.
Kids are especially vulnerable to this effect of blue light as we discovered in our previous article about night lights.
In contrast, exposure to blue light during the day can help to improve our mood and alertness. For this reason, many experts recommend getting outside for a few minutes every day to expose yourself to sunlight. This can help to keep your circadian rhythm on track and improve your sleep quality at night.
While this may sounds obvious,
daylight keeps people awake!
(I know… a real shocker)
As the sun sets, our bodies naturally begin to wind down for the night. One way to help facilitate this process is by using soft white light in the evening.
Unlike blue-hued light, soft white light does not contain the shorter wavelengths. This means that it does not send as strong of a signal to our brains that it is time to be awake and alert.
Instead, soft white light helps to create a more relaxed and calming atmosphere, setting the stage for a restful night’s sleep. So if you’re looking for a way to improve your sleep quality, try swapping out your bright white light bulbs for soft white ones in the evening hours. You may just find yourself nodding off a little sooner.
While the color temperature is the biggest culprit, light intensity plays a big role too. If you’re looking to wind down at the end of the day, choose a light that’s both warm in color and low in intensity (or one that allows for adjustment).
So you’ve got the right colored lights but you still have trouble sleeping?
Does this sound familiar?
You’ve been tossing and turning for hours, but you just can’t seem to fall asleep. You know you should put your phone away and try to relax, but for some reason you can’t seem to stop scrolling through your social media feed.
It could be that your phone is keeping you awake because of the blue light it emits. Blue light is a type of light that is found naturally in sunlight. It’s also emitted by electronic screens, such as computers, tablets, and phones.
As we mentioned, exposure to blue light during the day can help improve your mood and increase your alertness. However, at night, blue light can disrupt your body’s natural sleep cycle and make it difficult to fall asleep.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, it’s best to put away your devices an hour before bed and try to relax in a dim or dark room. But if you’re like me, that’s probably not going to happen. So try this Bonus Tip instead:
Now the light will be easier on the eyes so you can keep scrolling and still be able to fall asleep after you’re done!
To Put It To Bed
We hope you found these tips helpful in creating a better sleep environment for yourself. By choosing soft or warm colors for your home, and turning on night mode on your smartphone, you can start to see an improvement in the quality of your rest.
These are two of the simplest changes you can make, give them a try tonight and see if you notice a difference in how well you sleep.
If you have any questions about how to create a better sleep environment, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re always happy to help!