How home lighting affects your mood and wellbeing

Everything seems to feel better when the sun is shining - and the lighting in our homes can also have a big impact on the way we feel. Here’s Pooky’s guide to how light can affect your mood, and how you can use different types of lighting around the home to help boost your wellbeing...

Why light is so important (the science bit)

So, why does light play such an important role in our mental and emotional wellbeing? It’s all to do with our circadian rhythm - our body’s natural internal clock, which regulates our energy levels and sleep patterns according to the levels of light around us. Natural daylight stimulates our brains to produce the ‘feel-good’ hormone seratonin, making us feel alert and motivated. Then as light levels begin to fade in the evening, our bodies respond by producing the hormone melatonin, to help prepare us for sleep. Changes in the weather and the seasons can have a significant effect on our state of mind. Just as we can feel more tired and lethargic on a cold and gloomy day, so when the sun comes out the metaphorical clouds also seem to lift and we feel happier and more optimistic! The winter months can be particularly challenging for some people, and reduced levels of sunlight can trigger seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression which is linked to the change of seasons. Modern environments and artificial lighting can also play havoc with our body’s natural responses. This can affect us in a number of ways, including our mood, concentration and general wellbeing. The good news is, there are lots of things you can do with your home lighting to help ward off those blues and create a positive mood, whatever the weather!

Image: Jessica Buckley


Colour temperature and mood

It’s not just the amount of light that can affect your mood and behaviour - the tone or ‘colour temperature’ of the light is also important. Colour temperature is measured in degrees Kelvin (K). At the higher end of the scale (above 5000 K) are ‘cool’ blue and white light, which are brighter and more stimulating - so good for helping us to feel productive and accomplish tasks. Meanwhile at the lower end (under around 3000 K) you’ll find the ‘warmer’ yellow tones, which are softer and help us to feel calm and relaxed. Experts recommend that we should try to simulate natural light levels as much as possible. So while you’ll need stronger and brighter lighting during the daytime, to help you concentrate and accomplish tasks, when it’s time to kick back and relax you need to switch to a lower level, more atmospheric form of lighting.

Layering your lighting

Rooms such as kitchens and sitting rooms are often multifunctional spaces. You can use a combination of different types of lighting to create the right mood for different tasks and at different times of day. This is known as ‘layering’ lighting. There are three main types of lighting: ambient lighting, which refers to the overall level of light in a room (including the main light and any wall lights); task lighting, which helps you to carry out specific tasks (perhaps a desk light or table lamp); and accent lighting, which can highlight features in a room, and help to create a particular mood (this would include recess lights, uplights or wall sconces). By finding the right balance of task, accent and ambient lighting, you can create a range of different moods and effects. ( Find out more about layering light in our guide.)


Have plenty of light where you need it

It’s important to make sure you have access to plenty of quality light where you need it, whether you’re working from home, preparing dinner, dining at home with friends, or getting ready to go out. In a practical room such as the kitchen, you’ll need plenty of bright ambient light, for example from pendant lights or adjustable spotlights. You’ll also need some targeted task lighting over the working areas, to help with preparing and cooking food - a row of pendants looks fantastic suspended above a kitchen island and will provide effective task lighting. The sitting room is another multipurpose space, which might be used for a whole range of tasks from reading, doing homework or watching TV, to eating a light meal or entertaining friends. In this room, you want plenty of good ambient light during the day. You can maximise any available natural light coming from windows or patio doors - try placing a mirror next to or opposite a window to reflect and amplify the natural light. The other main source of ambient light in a sitting room is often a pendant light or chandelier. This can be supplemented with some wall lights or some table lamps with energy-efficient LED bulbs to help with task lighting and add depth and atmosphere.

Image: Fiona Parke


Creating cosiness

While blue light helps us to be more productive, exposure to too much of the stuff can make us feel stressed and overexcited, interrupt the body’s wake-sleep cycle, and have a generally negative effect on our wellbeing. It’s important to try to relax and unwind, both body and mind, in the evening. As dusk approaches, it’s time to turn down the lights in the sitting room. Using warmer, low-level yellow lighting and a combination of lamps and wall sconces can help you to achieve a calm and cosy vibe. It’s well worth investing in a dimmer, so that you can adjust the lighting to create exactly the right mood. Meanwhile, if you’re entertaining, dim down the main lights and add in some accent lighting such as shelf lights or wall lights to add a sense of warmth, atmosphere and intimacy to the occasion. The bedroom is another space where it’s important to achieve a calm and restful atmosphere. The ambient light in a bedroom usually comes from a ceiling light (ideally a stylish pendant or fab chandelier!) over the bed. Where you need more focused light, such as above a dressing table, use a table lamp or a low hanging pendant, and of course use bedside lamps to create a soft, warm glow, so you can cosy up with a good book and get ready to drift off. Read more on the Pooky interiors blog: How to use lighting to create a cosy corner ‘My cosy corner’ - top interior designers share their favourite secret spots

Rapunzel table lamp


At Pooky we make affordable designer lamps for beautiful homes. Browse our range of lighting here.