Lets talk about… Indoor Lighting.

Did you know that the lightbulbs you use at home or work can play a role in how well you sleep, how you wake up, and even your overall health?

Common bulbs used at home:

Incandescent Light Bulbs pass an electric current through a metal filament to produce heat, until it's hot enough to glow – providing a soft, diffused white light. The light is gentle on the eyes as it is a more natural hue of light and not blue tinted like LED or CFL. Incandescent light has not been shown to have any effect on brain chemistry. The disadvantage of incandescent bulbs is that they’re highly energy inefficient and burn out quickly. In addition, they’re not environmentally friendly as they consume more energy than other types of light bulbs and also emit mercury into the air.

Halogen bulbs recycle halogen gas and tungsten within a quartz envelope to create light. Halogen lights are often white, bright light - similar to day light. These are great for task lighting e.g. in the kitchen or at a craft desk where you need a lot of light. However, these overly bright lights can lead to eye strain and sometimes even sunburn if used for long periods. It would be best not to use halogen bulbs after sunset, because white light can keep your brain awake and inhibit the production of melatonin, leading to have a hard time falling asleep. Although halogen bulbs produce more heat in comparison to incandescent bulbs, they’re typically longer lasting.

LED (light emitting diode) bulbs pass an electric current through a semi-conducting material. LED bulbs give off blue light, which can stimulate the brain, disrupt sleep, and cause eye strain and headaches. Avoid using these lights in bedrooms. These bulbs can increase risk of macular degeneration, a disease of the eye that can lead to blindness and increase the risks of cataracts.

The advantages of LED bulbs are that they use only 12 watts, last up to 25,000 hours and are currently the most energy efficient type of bulb. On the negative side however, we must note that LED bulbs contain toxic heavy metals. Red LED bulbs contain high amounts of lead, while white LEDs contain high amounts of nickel. It’s important to wear gloves and a mask if you have to clean up a broken LED bulb. LED light bulbs most often run on direct current (DC), which is one of the largest causes for dirty electricity and EMF radiation within the home.

CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs pass an electric current through a gaseous tube. CFL bulbs give off UVB lighting and high levels of blue light, which can disrupt sleep and cause insomnia. The ultraviolet light that CFL produces can be linked to skin and cell damage. These bulbs also contain high levels of mercury vapor, so if they break, the mercury is released into your home, creating a dangerous environment, especially for children.

CFL were the first energy efficient bulbs to replace incandescent light bulbs. However, in order to do this, CFLs use high frequency electricity, changing the AC current we use to DC, which creates those spikes and surges in our power that emit high amounts of EMF radiation. Basically, our electrical systems were not made to handle the high frequency demands of CFL light bulbs, and as they produce ‘dirty electricity’ (electromagnetic interference) within our homes, they also produce EMF radiation as the dirty electricity builds up in the wiring.

Cost wise LEDs are the most expensive but use the least amount of energy. Fluorescents are much cheaper but not nearly as efficient as LEDs. Incandescent bulbs cost the least, but use the most energy.

In summary:

For your wellbeing - Light Bulbs To Avoid

1. CFL lights.

2. High efficiency “cool” and “bright white” fluorescent bulbs. They usually emit a slightly bluish light along with copious amounts of UV radiation.

For your wellbeing - Light Bulbs To Buy

1. Traditional incandescent bulbs.

2. If LED is your only option – try using one that does not have a transformer.

3. If CFL is your only option - choose a double-encapsulated CFL.

We will be focusing on enhancing indoor lighting in our next post.