Could Your Lighting Make You More Productive?

Photo: Stocksy/Marko Milanovic

Your coffee order. Your exercise routine. Your beauty regimen. Your period. Yep, there's a biohack for that! Nowadays, people are coming up with solutions to make their bodies work smarter. So, it was only a matter of time before this problem-solution "hacking" mentality took aim at productivity levels, as well. One easy way to up them? Swapping out your lightbulbs. This small tweak could actually unlock your full potential in the getting-things-done department.

A study published in the scientific journal Sleep found that workers who were exposed to well-lit areas during the day dealt with lower levels of daytime sleepiness (sign me up for anything that gets me through that 3 p.m. yawn-fest). Another out of the University of Toronto detected that powerful emotions (both positive and negative) are felt most strongly under intense bright lighting. And still another cross-cultural study found that when workers perceived light to be at its dimmest, their moods collectively were at their worst.

"Warmer, yellow-toned white light tends to create more of a relaxed atmosphere while whiter, crisper whites tend to be more energizing."

“Lighting can have a big impact on the mood you're trying to create in different spaces," explains Mathew Sommers, consumer innovation manager at General Electric Lighting. "Warmer, yellow-toned white light tends to create more of a relaxed atmosphere while whiter, crisper lights tend to be more energizing for places where you need to get work or specific tasks done.”

Equipped with our stacks of studies and these mood-benefiting lighting options, GE helped Well+Good hack our office lighting, to achieve the most productive workday yet. The results? Bulbs definitely impact mood—and it took our staffers no time to tell a marked difference. Take a tour of a the office with Alexis Gutter, Well+Goods' senior news editor and I as your guide in what was a totally normal (promise, we always snap pics of ourselves editing) day at work.

Keep scrolling to read about how selecting the right lighting can impact your home or office.

Waiting area lighting
Photo: Abby Maker for Well+Good

The entryway

This is where you'll find visitors waiting and staffers chatting about everything from story ideas to marketing plans. For this area, we selected Relax, a soft, if slightly dim, white light that feels warm and inviting. "The soft hue supplied me a cozy feeling that I typically only get when I work in my own living room," says Gutter. This hue is best for intimate spaces like a living room or dining room, where you want to bring people in and make them feel at home.

Working area lighting
Photo: Abby Maker for Well+Good

The offices

Well+Good has an open floor plan, so for the desk areas where we spend the majority of our days, we selected Reveal. It's a classic bright white light, meant to filter out the yellow, leaving the room clearly lit. We found that it was sharp, and focused, perfect for a working space. Since light is super personal to everyone, however, one of our editors felt that it could have been even more amplified. "I think best when the lights are ultra-bright, so for my space, I'd definitely pick an even brighter option to get my brainwaves going," says Rachel Lapidos, associate beauty editor.

Conference room lighting
Photo: Abby Maker for Well+Good

The conference rooms

We sought out the crispness of the light called Refresh in the meeting rooms, to try to boost brainpower during thought sessions. We found this one to be high-focus without being overpowering in the way that fluorescents can sometimes be. "I definitely noticed when the light bulbs were changed," says Tamim Alnuweiri, assistant news editor. "It was more soothing light that made me feel more productive, and because they were less glaring I found it easier to focus on my laptop." Try using it in spaces where you want there to be increased focus such as an at-home office. The bottom line: lighting is a powerful tool and if you use it correctly you can hack your workday to be even more efficient.

Curious about other powers of light? Varying forms of light have been used to help with Seasonal Affected Disorder and blue LED light therapy has been shown to kill P. acnes, which can create blemishes.

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