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The Best Lightbulbs To Promote Sleep—And the Type To Avoid, According to a Sleep Specialist

Rebecca Norris

Photo: Stocksy / Danil Nevsky
By now you’ve likely heard that staring at your phone or TV while winding down for bed can actually make falling asleep quite challenging. Such is the reality of blue light. According to the National Sleep Foundation, blue light has shorter wavelengths than other colors in the visible light spectrum, which triggers more alertness than warmer light tones. It’s because of this that sleep experts not only recommend shutting off the television and setting down your phone while preparing for sleep but also suggest filling your space with warmer lights. To find the best lightbulbs to promote sleep,  we turned Michael Grandner, PhD, Casper sleep advisor and director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona.

The best light bulbs to promote sleep

Red light is the most conducive for sleep. That said, that’s more so in relation to night lights, as most people aren’t going to up and replace all of their regular table lamp bulbs with red ones. According to Grandner, what you should do, however, is opt for yellow or orange-tinted bulbs, especially ones that can be dimmed or are naturally not as bright as your classic LED light bulb. Incandescent bulbs are your best bet then. They give off a warm soft white light that, while not obtrusively yellow or orange, is conducive to sleep.

“Bulbs that are dimmer and emit more yellow or orange light are much better for promoting sleep at night,” he explains, noting that bright bulbs with more blue-green light are best for supporting a strong daytime signal.

The most common misconception around light bulbs for sleep

So often, people assume that the only lights that need to be changed in the home are those in the bedroom. On the contrary, Grandner says that you should use yellow and orange-tinted lights wherever you’re going to be leading up to sleep and not just immediately beforehand. “If you are going to be on the couch in the evening, make sure that the light in your environment is conducive to sleep,” he says.

When blue light is beneficial

In short: When you’re actively trying not to fall asleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Exposing yourself to blue light in the evening stimulates your brain into thinking it’s earlier in the day. Your brain slows or stops its release of melatonin, making it harder to fall asleep.” In that way, if you’re looking to stay up late and get work done but don’t want to rely on caffeine to do so, surrounding yourself with blue light can potentially help.

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