With the advent of LED and CFL (compact fluorescent light) being installed in new builds, my clients come to me for tips on alleviating how these bulbs make them “feel.” As an eco-conscious designer, I support every effort and product that’s made to reduce our carbon footprint and lighten the load on our wallets. Yet some of these new technologies have hidden harmful effects on our health and we don’t even know it’s happening.
If you’re struggling with tired eyes, headaches or insomnia, your lighting may be the reason. Those lighter peepers are more prone to the damages of lighting than their hazel, brown-eyed friends who have built-in sunglasses because of more melanin in their iris. Whatever your eye color, here’s some insider tips that will help you feel better, look prettier (or more handsome) and could ultimately benefit you and your family’s health.
If you’re trying to feel better in your environment, overhead lighting is not your friend. Yet, it’s the main or only source of light many depend on in our workplaces. Overhead lighting can cast a shadow on your workspace if the source of the light is above, yet behind you. Not only is the angle of overhead light tiring for your optic nerve to break down for eight hours, it’s also difficult to see the task in front of you.
When you get home, light your life from the side. We do this with lamps. Overhead light and the angle that it hits the eye makes your eyes tired and can give you headaches or migraines. Lamps create ambient lighting. Their shades provide a diffuser and softens the light.
There are even external dimmer switches you can plug your lamp into to control how much light the bulb emits. I even have them on my holiday twinkle lights, but admittedly that’s a step too far for most. A task lamp or library lamp on your desk at work or home can help even if you’re on a computer for extended periods.
Pretty in pink
Pink softens us and takes that yellow/green look we feel at the office out. Change out those bulbs to a soft pink. Especially in closets. When you’re trying on clothes you want to feel good. You’ll feel better in that full length illuminated by pink.
Pink-colored bulbs can be found online or at bulb stores. Or you can get smart bulbs with multiple color and dimming options and set them to pink!
Under cabinet lighting
Under cabinet lighting is used to better illuminate any kitchen task. Experiment with turning those on while you’re chopping veggies instead of just turning on the overheads. Having light that illuminates your task makes it easier on your eyes.
If you’re going to invest in some task lighting, look for 2700k that indicates warmer colors like yellows and oranges. If you don’t have under cabinet lighting, there are a few fixes: small lamps on your counter or rope light that you can tack up. You’ll feel better prepping that meal, I promise.
Incandescent vs. LED
Thomas Edison is usually the guy we credit with inventing the lightbulb, more specifically he invented the incandescent lightbulb. This bulb uses a steady stream of electrical current to heat a filament. That’s why they get hot. LEDS have a compressed current and emit less heat. This is why they reduce our utility bill.
While eco-friendly lights give our wallets a break, they produce an artificial ultra-violet (UV) light that negatively affects our eyes. Computers and TV screens also produce this harmful light and is often linked to troubled sleep. No one feels good if they aren’t sleeping well.
Screen protectors combined with blue blocker glasses can help reduce the negative effects of exposure, keep those headaches at bay and help regulate your circadian rhythm. You can also get an app that automatically makes your devices go to a rosy color as day heads to evening.
We know what our paleolithic ancestors ate but what did they use for light? Fire. Orange light reduces stimulation to the brain and signals it’s time to relax. Our eyes have evolved to see red/orange light at night, not our blue/green emitting TVs or devices.
That blue/green light you’re absorbing right before bed could be why you toss and turn. Salt lamps are a great way to light your home at night. And you’ll fall back asleep faster when you get up in the middle of the night.
Natural light and your vitamins
Exposure to sunlight gives us Vitamin D and this vitamin plays an important role in our feelings of well being. It’s absorbed through the skin and the eyes, so spend 15 minutes outside to start your day. Take a walk without your sunglasses.
If you work in a space that doesn’t expose you to any natural light, go outside for lunch. Your eyes will thank you. It will set you up for feeling happier and it’s free. Now that’s eco-friendly!
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