How light affects us

Lighting plays a very important role in our lives. Not only does it let us continue our daily routines after dark, but it also affects our mood. Light gives us energy and affects our biological clocks.

We all feel great when we see the sun shining and birds singing, don’t we? On a beautiful sunny day we feel full of energy and are ready to do much more than when it’s cloudy and dark. There is psychology and physiology involved in here.

Some people are active and love being outdoors, whereas others prefer to curl up on a sofa with a good book or film. Light can affect productivity, mood and overall mental activity of both groups. How is this possible? Light shuts down the production of melatonin which is the sleep inducer.

Light affects people in different ways. Some like the natural light so feel the best when being outdoors, the others like being in the darkness only illuminated by a small source of light. Our mood can be affected by different kinds of light.

Introverts and extroverts are affected differently by light and sound. Depending on the type of person you are, brightness can motivate or demotivate from work (this will be discussed further below). Everything that surrounds us: light, sounds, smells, objects we see and touch, has an effect on us and on the way we act. They can either stimulate us to be more productive or draw our attention away from clear thinking, performance and creativity.

The light we use at home and office will affect our mental performance and mental state. It can either increase or decrease our productivity.
That is why it is so important to choose the right type of lighting for our daily activities.

Introverts vs Extroverts

Extroverts are in general less affected by sensory stimulation. That means they tolerate better bright light and loud noises. Introverts, on the other hand, prefer calmer places and less direct lighting.

Extroverts are happy when there is a lot going on around them, no matter how noisy and bright it is around them. On the other hand, too much brightness and loud surroundings wear introverts out quickly.

That is why it is sometimes so difficult for them to work in loud and crowded places. There is too much sensory stimulation which they find uncomfortable.
Introverts, in order to work efficiently, should make sure they are surrounded by less sensory stimulation possible. It is advisable for them to wear earplugs if the surroundings is too noisy, and make sure there aren’t any unnecessary things at their work-place. The light they use shouldn’t be too bright and direct.

Mood lighting inside

It is incredible how changing of lighting only can change the look and feel of a room, without changing anything else. Lighting alone is so powerful, that it can create a completely different atmosphere without changing any furniture or decorations.

Human minds are usually sharper during the day. That is why our mental performance and mood are in general most effective before the sunset. That obviously varies, depending on what kind of person you are.

Light should not only be used for our visual comfort but should also affect the experience of the objects we are looking at.

By the right use of the light, it is possible to achieve moods such as solemnity, restfulness, gaiety, activity, warmth, and coolness. Lamps can also be used to some elements of the interior more dramatic.

The right choice of lighting can give an effect of alertness and activity, if higher levels of lighting are used, relaxation, restfulness and intimacy when we use lower lighting levels.

Lighting can be soft or hard. Soft lighting can be achieved by diffusing light. That will minimize shadows and provide a more relaxing and less visually compelling atmosphere. If too much diffuser is used, the room will look dull and not interesting. In order to achieve hard light, we need to use direct lighting. If used carefully, it can provide interesting shadows, model form and can emphasize texture. It is advisable to use this kind of lighting as supplement rather than main lighting.

If the same needs to be used for different purposes, using different kinds of light will help. Use lots of direct lighting for work, to make sure the room is alive and feels active. For a bit more cosiness, use table or floor lamps, possible with candle effect.

Floor lamps are also excellent to create reading corners. Table lamps, on the other hand, can be placed on the bedside tables. Both types of lighting not only are practical but will also add mood and create elegant atmosphere in the room.

Another type of lighting that shouldn’t be forgotten, is picture lighting. This should be used to emphasise an object such as piece of artwork or indoor statue or fountain.

Before choosing the light type you want to use in a room, think of about the decorative effect and mood you want to achieve as well as about the types of lighting you prefer.

The best way to increase one’s effectiveness and improve mood, is to find out what works for you. It can only be done by trying different kinds of lighting and checking which one seems appropriate in a said situation.

Coloured lighting

Coloured lighting helps to achieve the right atmosphere. At home it should, however, only be used in moderation as too much of coloured lighting could destroy the appearance of materials and people’s colouring. For example too much of red lights will wash out redness of lips and cheeks and undo the flattering effect, as can be noted in some nightclubs.

In order to achieve a restful atmosphere, low brightness patterns should be used and no visible light sources, the colour should be subdued, the ceiling darker. We can get an effect of activity and alertness, on the other hand, by using lots of bright colours illuminating especially specific areas. The living room, or any other room where we relax should emit low levels of direct lighting.

To achieve a party mood, on the other hand, use bright lights and sparkles from reflections from objects.

A romantic mood can be created by using low levels of lights, which blend in to the room. That will modulate the faces and forms and will get the feeling of entering a candle lighted room. This kind of lighting may seem a bit dark at first but our eyes get used to it very quickly.

If you are holding a cocktail party, the room should be lit brightly. It is a good idea to light numerous sources such as floor lamps, wall lamps and sconces. That will create a more elegant effect than using just one ceiling lamp. Also, your guests will feel welcome with this kind of lighting but will also find less lit areas for private conversations.

If you want to get an effect of warmth, we should use lots of red-coloured lighting and its spectrum: pink, orange, amber, yellow. For coolness, on the other hand, use the opposite colours: green, violet and blue.

For effect of gaiety use higher levels of illumination with kinetic lighting elements. Position lighting so that rhythms are created by light and shadow, reflections and diffusions.