If you’ve ever tried to center yourself in a brightly lit room, you probably realize that lighting can dramatically affect your mood. That’s because the white lights used in most rooms are meant to keep us awake – according to a 2011 Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (1) study, everyday white lighting can suppress the body’s sleep-including melatonin production. Not that you have to enter complete darkness to center yourself – you can create a relaxing environment using calming color light.
That said, to an extent, research into relaxing colors remains ongoing. The science behind the association of some colors, such as purple and grey, with calm is not yet as firm as the research backing other colors’ potential calming effects. Below, we’ll explain more about the colors that science has suggested may help calm you and show how we here at BlissLights can help you bring these colors into your life.
What's the relationship between light and mood?
Light has myriad potential effects on mood. A 2019 study in the German scientific journal Somnologie (2) found that lighting may have both therapeutic and adverse effects on mood and overall wellbeing. Examples of these effects that other studies have suggested include:
- Stronger positive and negative emotions
- Changes in appetite
- Better sleep and more exercise
- Impacts on energy levels
- Headache frequency and severity
- Improved mental health, especially for people with depression or sleep disorders
- Stimulating autistic people
- Quicker relaxation – and thus an easier time calming yourself
To learn more about these lighting effects on mood and read the scientific studies backing them, read our blog about how lighting affects your mood. From here onward, we’ll focus on solely one of these effects: feeling calmer.
The 4 best calming light colors
Several colors have been studied for their calming effect. The four colors here have the most promising scientific backing for their calming impact:
A 2017 study reported in the scientific journal PLOS ONE (3) found that blue lighting leads to post-stress relaxation three times as quickly as conventional white lighting. Blue light’s potential calming effects have been observed outside scientific studies as well.
If you need to feel calm to get work done, the color blue might be especially useful for you. According to a 2016 study in the scientific journal Sleep (5), blue light can ease you during cognitive tasks since it “enhances performance” on these activities.
To find your inner balance before tackling work or calm yourself for any other reason, try our BlissBulb in blue or our blue-green Ark Ambient Aurora light. Both options create dazzling blue light shows that can transport you to a calmer place – right where you want to be.
Red light has also shown the potential to calm people. The best potential explanation, with which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (6) agrees, pertains to red light’s wavelength. This theory posits that your eyes are less sensitive to higher-wavelength light (7), and since red light has the longest wavelength of the rainbow’s colors, you’re less likely to react to it than other colors. Since your body doesn’t respond as much to red light, this color may have calming effects.
BlissLights make red BlissBulbs that fill your indoor space with red stars for a night sky effect. Immerse yourself in our reds to work toward calm – if current scientific theories are right, serenity is just a bulb away.
A 2014 book titled Drunk Tank Pink (8) told the story of major psychological experiments into the calming effects of pink light. According to author Adam Alter, psychologists conducting experiments on prison populations in the early 1980s found that bubblegum-pink hues calmed aggressive prisoners. Alter also notes that these studies’ findings extended beyond prisons into society: Charities saw donations increase when using pink in their promotional materials, and buses with seats painted pink were vandalized less often.
A 2016 study conducted at the University of Oxford (9) found that green light may promote sleep. Getting a proper night’s sleep is necessary for feeling calm. Green light may have this effect since it reacts strongly with a sleep hormone called melanopsin (10) (a different hormone than the much better-known melatonin!).
Green light, like blue light, has shown potential calming effects outside lab settings as well, including in hospitals. A 2009 study of hospital green light use reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (11) found that hospital architects and associated healthcare experts regularly described green as a soothing color for light. This observation could explain this color’s use in hospitals – dealing with medical concerns is already enough to put some patients on edge, and harsh lighting achieves the opposite effect of calming these patients.
You too can use green lighting to work toward calmness. With our portable StarPort Laser USB in green, you can quickly douse yourself in soothing greens wherever you go. Just plug your StarPort into your laptop or mobile charger, and you’ll get dazzling, calming green hues that easily go with you from room to room!
Keep calm and carry on with BlissLights
Here at BlissLights, our color lighting options can help you remain calm in any indoor setting. This doesn’t just mean your home – it can mean friends’ houses, hotels, or even your office. Our easiest solution for taking calming red lights on the go is our StarPort as mentioned earlier, and our blue-green SkyLite Laser Galaxy Projector fits neatly in your backpack or travel bag too. Use our laser lights to center yourself wherever you are, whether you’ve had a stressful day or are already close to achieving zen – browse our shop to find the perfect light for your serenity!
- Gooley, Joshua et. al. “Exposure to Room Light before Bedtime Suppresses Melatonin Onset and Shortens Melatonin Duration in Humans.” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism; 2011.
- Blume, Christine et. al. “Effects of light on human circadian rhythms, sleep and mood.” Somnologie; 2014.
- Minguillon, J et. al. “Blue lighting accelerates post-stress relaxation: Results of a preliminary study.” PLoS ONE; 2017.
- PsychCentral. “Can Blue-Colored Light Prevent Suicide?” psychcentral.com; accessed December 2020
- Alkozei, Anna et. al. “Exposure to Blue Light Increases Subsequent Functional Activation of the Prefrontal Cortex During Performance of a Working Memory Task.” Sleep; 2016.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Interim NIOSH Training for Emergency Responders: Reducing Risks Associated with Long Work Hours.” cdc.gov; accessed December 2020
- The Energy Blueprint. “Is Red Light Therapy Good for Sleep?” theenergyblueprint.com; accessed December 2020
- Alter, Adam. Drunk Tank Pink and Other Forces That Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave. Penguin Random House, 2014.
- Peirson, Stuart et. al. “Lighting color affects sleep, wakefulness.” Oxford University; 2016.
- The Free Dictionary by Fairlex. “Melanopsin.” medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com; accessed December 2020
- Pantalony, David. “The colour of medicine.” CMAJ; 2009.