How The Brightness Of Your Lamps Could Affect Your Mood

Anyone who has lived up north can tell you that seasonal affective disorder (appropriately acronymized as SAD) is real — and so is the struggle. The lack of daylight during winter months can lead to low energy, moodiness, insomnia, depression, and more, per the Mayo Clinic, and there's even a whole category of lighting products made specifically to counteract this condition.

This points to the fact that lighting, whether natural or artificial, has a real and measurable effect on our well-being. That's why city dwellers looking for apartments seek a corner of the concrete jungle that offers even the smallest sliver of sunlight to illuminate their waking hours. And, since humans are inherently diurnal creatures — meaning that we naturally sleep at night and are active during the day — it's clear that we're simply meant to live in the light.

So, it should come as no surprise that the lamps and other light sources in your home can drastically affect your mood, depending on their brightness. Here's how.

Lighting can lead to emotional ups and downs

In 2014, research published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology found that bright lights can heighten the intensity of one's emotions, via HuffPost. When study participants were exposed to bright light, they felt physically warmer, thought a sauce tasted spicier, and found a person more attractive than before.

"Other evidence shows that on sunny days people are more optimistic about the stock market, report higher wellbeing and are more helpful," said study researcher Alison Jing Xu, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough, in a statement. Interestingly enough, their research found that bright light doesn't only heighten positive emotions but negative ones, too, with Xu noting that people prone to depression actually become more depressed on sunny days. Go figure.

In addition to making us feel blue, as in the case of SAD, low light can make us feel more relaxed and less alert, per Mental Floss. This leads to another effect: People generally eat slower and consume less overall in dim lighting, as anyone who's eaten dinner in a candlelit restaurant can attest. (Maybe we just want to savor the moment, OK, scientists?) However, the combination of feeling relaxed and the reduced lighting can lead to less healthy dietary choices, research found.

So what's the verdict? If you're looking to be more interested in your work or hobby, a bright task lamp near your workspace could do the trick. On the other hand, if you want to change your eating habits, putting a dimmer on your kitchen or dining room light might help. Play around, and see what works best for you.