As you read this, there is a better-than-average chance you’re working from home for what may be the first time, and that means a lot of changes in your routine. Working from home requires a certain amount of discipline that the office does not. There are more distractions, more things to pull your attention away, and more comfortable couches to take a “quick break” on. However, the biggest thing you should keep in mind while working from home is your lighting.
Many people will sit in their home office with the lights off and happily work bathed in the glow of their monitor, but that can have adverse, subtle effects on your mood. Lighting plays a huge role in how you feel throughout the day. Just think about those years spent in school, basking in the glow of harsh fluorescent lights. They didn’t exactly encourage warmth and cheer, did they?
Your computer monitor emits blue light, just like your smartphone, tablet, and television. Blue light interferes with your circadian rhythm and results in interruptions with your sleep cycle. Poor sleep leads to reduced productivity, increased rates of depression, and a host of other unpleasant issues. In other words, sleep matters — and therefore, lighting matters.
Here’s how smart lighting can help.
While different-colored lights have specific psychological triggers (for example, red lighting is claimed to make you hungry), you don’t need colored lights to improve your mood. The temperature of light impacts your mood, too. Color temperature is measure don the Kelvin scale. The higher the temperature, the cooler (and brighter) the light will be.
Lower temperature, warmer light is relaxing and inviting. This is the color you want your bedroom to be in the evenings. It’s also a great choice of color for the dining room at family dinner. Likewise, you want a cooler temperature in the bathroom first thing in the morning. Cooler light invigorates and stimulates the mind. Because cooler light tends to have a blue tint, you can take advantage of blue light’s effect on your body. This can help you wake up and stay more focused as you work, erase feelings of sleepiness, and more.
Smart lights like LIFX and Philips Hue allow you to program your lights to be warm and cool at specific times. While at home, set your office lights to cool first thing in the morning and kep them cool throughout the day. This will help you stay focused and more alert while tackling those work-from-home duties. At the end of the day, have your lights warm as you approach dinnertime. This will help you wind down after a day of work and prepare to relax for the evening.
Avoiding blue light in the evening will help you sleep more soundly at night, which will help you be more productive during the day.
Other studies have shown that insufficient lighting in the workplace can lead to increased rates of depression. In a time where working from home is often not voluntary, it’s important to keep your spirits up.
The light of your monitor might be all you need to see, but it can adversely affect your mood. Make sure you have plenty of light around your work area, whether it’s in your office or at your dining room table. If possible, open the blinds and let in a bit of natural light. It will keep your spirits up and help you remain focused naturally, without the need for copious amounts of coffee.
If you are looking for smart lights to use around your home, consider investing in Philips Hue or LIFX bulbs. Each offers a rich portfolio of lighting solutions, ranging from standard bulbs to LED strips that can be used as an accent. The apps for both of these smart lights give users a tremendous amount of control over scheduling, color temperature, and in some cases, the specific color of the lights. By setting a schedule, you can benefit from the effects of proper lighting without thinking about it. Best of all, smart lights work whether there is good weather outside or not. Here are some alternatives to consider:
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