How Lighting Affects Your Productivity

Good Advice by Ali Finney
Could your lighting make you more productive?
How Lighting Affects Your Productivity
02 January, 2018

Article republished from Well+Good.
Last updated on 10 November, 2023.

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 light bulbs. This small tweak could 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.  

“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 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

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.

Work area

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

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. 

The impact of natural light on productivity

Natural light can positively impact one’s mood, encouraging productivity and better sleep. As the sun comes out less in the winter, it’s a good idea to introduce a light that mimics the sun’s natural rays. Our sun filled™ LED light limits the blue peak in the light spectrum to resemble natural sunlight. This can help you feel more well rested, so you are ready to take on each new day with your best mood forward!

LED vs fluorescent lighting: which is better for productivity?

While LED bulbs are 80% more efficient than their fluorescent counterparts, which type of light can help you be more productive in your daily life?

As the duller light of the two, fluorescent bulbs may cause people to be less alert. Putting fluorescent light in a space where you want to be productive is not the best idea.

However LED lights, such as our focus-forward refresh™ HD LED bulbs, may encourage productivity where you need it most. Think: home office, laundry room, at-home gym, or garage.