Using Lighting to Improve Mood and Enhance Well-Being
When I think back to times and places when I have been thoroughly, quietly happy in my body and my soul, I am fortunate to have a deep well of memories to draw from. They’re simple things, usually. Summer afternoons in my backyard as a child, gentle breezes blowing through the oaks and maples. Watching dust motes drift in Sunday morning sunbeams in a girlfriend’s apartment. Sitting by the bank of a sundrenched pond, carpeted with lily-pads, for days on end in Yellowstone, counting hours by the drift of shadows. They’re as disparate as the days of my life have been. But in each of these memories, there is one common element—sunlight.
The Impact of Sunlight on Mood
The effects of sunlight on mood are well-cataloged. During the summer, a time of abundant sunlight, people report the highest levels of happiness. In contrast, depression is more commonly experienced in the winter months, when sunlight is scarce. This phenomenon explains in part why so many people who live in northern states choose to travel to Florida, Arizona, and other southern states to get as much sunlight as they can in the winter.
Research reveals that sunlight influences mood in a number of important ways:
- Enhancing beta-endorphin, serotonin, and vitamin D production to elevate mood
- Encouraging nitric oxide production to energize the brain
- Reducing excess melatonin production to regulate sleep cycles
These processes are essential to maintaining mental health and emotional stability throughout the year. Unfortunately, getting enough sun can be a challenge in the darkness of winter, spurring us to turn to artificial lighting to recreate the benefits of natural sunlight.
Using Electric Lighting to Improve Mood
Because sunlight has such a positive effect on mood, we seek it out—visiting hot, sunny places in the winter, going to the beach in the summer, taking a walk outside on our lunch hour. We also seek to recreate sunlight in places it can’t reach. Using incandescent, fluorescent, and LED bulbs, we light up the night and illuminate even the darkest corners of our homes. Unfortunately, these common light sources do not produce light that matches the full spectrum of the sun’s rays. For this reason, people who spend much of their day under artificial lights, like office workers under fluorescent lights, often find them irritating and sometimes even stress-inducing. They miss the sunlight.
However, specialized lights do exist that come much closer to imitating the sun’s rays and, consequently, the sun’s positive effects on mood. For example, certain LED lights can be programmed to alter the color of light over the course of a day, mimicking everything from the soft tone of a sunrise to the brightness of a mid-day sky. In doing so, they can help regulate your circadian rhythms and stabilize your sleep cycle to improve psychological and physical wellness. You can even customize light colors for each room in your home, giving you the perfect ambiance for your daily activities.
More powerful lighting alternatives also exist to help people improve emotional well-being during dark winter months. By sitting in front of a specialized light box for 15 to 30 minutes a day during dark days, a person can absorb enough light in the proper wavelengths to gain the mood-enhancing benefits of natural sunlight. While these devices were originally developed for people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), they can help lift the mood of anyone feeling blue during the depths of winter by simulating the effects of the sun.
Fixed-Rate Energy Plans Keep the Lights On
Whether working to improve your mood in dark hours or simply providing basic illumination, electrical lighting is an essential element of people’s lives. Today, we have more options than ever before when it comes to the kind and quality of lighting we can use, such as LEDs or light boxes. However, the winter energy rate hike may cause some to be wary of keeping their lights on too long during the darker months.
Fortunately, those of us who don’t want to pay an ever-changing electricity rate can now choose fixed-rate energy plans to shield against sudden rate hikes. With a fixed-rate energy plan, you and your energy supplier agree ahead of time on what the price of electricity will be for the duration of your agreement. Then, no matter what the current price of electricity is, you only pay the agreed-upon rate without having to worry about seasonal increases, even in the darkest days of winter when energy prices, especially in northern climates, tend to soar.
With an ever-expanding array of options available, more and more of us are using electrical lighting to improve mood as well as for our everyday functionality. With a fixed-rate energy plan, you’ll never have to think twice about the price you pay to brighten your day.
At Liberty Power, we believe in brightening the world. That’s why we offer fixed-rate energy plans which stabilize the cost of keeping the lights on and give our customers the predictability they need. We can help you get started on making the switch today.
Photo Credit: Llywelyn Nys