Bright light (think: a sunny summer day) not only boosts your mood, it also makes you feel energized, awake, and alert. That’s great news during the daytime. But come sundown, exposure to artificial light that mimics natural light can be detrimental to your sleep by suppressing melatonin, your body’s slumber hormone. Since you’re probably not about to hit the sack as soon as the sun goes down, the next best thing is to be smart about choosing light bulbs for your home.
These are the most commonly-used light bulbs (think soft white, traditional-looking bulbs), and are generally inexpensive. They give off a diffuse, warm light, and typically last up to 1000 hours. They are not particularly energy efficient, unfortunately, but after red bulbs (more on them, below), these are the second best types of bulbs to use in your bedroom.
Similar to incandescent bulbs, halogen bulbs give off the whitest light—they’re the closest you’ll get to daylight (which is why you may want to avoid using them after dusk). They also burn hot, and if you touch them and some of the oil on your skin rubs off on their surface, they can actually burst.
Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFBs)
These spiral-shaped bulbs have been big news in recent years thanks to their energy efficiency; they last about ten times as long as incandescent bulbs. However, they emit significant amounts of blue light, which interferes with sleep, so you should keep them out of your bedroom and other areas where you spend time in the evening. If that’s not possible, turn off CFBs about two hours before bed, or keep lamps that contain them a minimum of five feet away from you, as blue light drops off at that distance.
Light-Emitting Diode Bulbs (LEDs)
Typically small and dome-shaped (or clustered like dots into a larger bulb), LEDs use about 75 percent less energy than traditional bulbs. However, their light is often one-directional, so they’re not great for use all around the house—you generally find them in task lighting. LEDs also produce significantly more blue light than traditional bulbs.
Interestingly, red wavelengths of light are most conducive to sleep. Try installing red (or even pink) bulbs in your bedroom, or use a red Christmas-tree bulb in any nightlights or reading lamps you use before bed.