How Coloured Light Affects Us

We know that light gives more than visual amenity. Recent scientific studies have shown light also has an effect on our our health and mood. But do we know how coloured light effects our physiological wellness? Colour is determined by the wavelength of light. Different wavelengths of light generate the different colours and deliver different energies. Read on for an exploration of how coloured light can be used to set the tone and mood of a place.

Red Light

red lighting in a hotel bar

The libido booster, red light has been proven to increase sexual desire. Its stimulating properties are also harnessed in medical treatments using low level laser (light) therapy treatments. Specific wavelengths of red light activate increased blood flow and stem cell release (among other things) that eases joints and activates muscle repair.
In hospitality work, we use red light in extroverted environments. It is effective in the illumination of active night-time environments such as clubs. Oddly, pink light – a variation of red – has a calming effect. A particular shade (named drunk-tank pink!) is used in detention cells as the colour has a moderating effect on anger and
agitation after just 10 minutes.

Golden Light

golden hospitality lighting in a restaurant

The colour of welcoming, light rich in yellow and red wavelengths promotes a feeling of “being at home”. Golden light is being used in Norwegian hospitals in the treatment of hyperactivity and anxiety. It’s a light we associate with fire, which until recently was our source of light by night.

Physiologically, golden light relaxes us and
prepares us for rest at night. In our work, golden light creates a warm, friendly atmosphere, perfect for promoting conversations and building connections amongst groups of people. In chromotherapy, it is a colour associated with our stomach, so it is a perfect colour for friends getting together over a meal.

Blue Light

blue lighting feature pendant in a vodka bar

The bringer of energy, light rich in blue wavelengths reduces fatigue and increases alertness. Blue light on plants promotes them to leaf-out and grow, in animals it aids migratory patterns, and in us it boosts our immune system.

Physiologically, blue light signals the start of the day and the transition from our sleeping cycle to our waking cycle.
In our work light, rich in the blue spectrum is used in the workplace at the start of the day to boost our energy and attention. Human-centric workplace lighting systems are automatically programming boosts of white light rich with blue at the start of the day and early afternoon to
mitigate the post lunch “food coma”.

Purple Light

purple coloured light in a jazz bar with a pianist and singer

Calming and mystical, psychological tests have shown purple light reduces stress. In medical research, an important breakthrough found purple (a shade of violet) was beneficial in antibacterial treatments, even shown to aid the killing superbugs like MRSA and C. difficile. For indoor plants, purple light with its shorter wavelengths is necessary to promote indoor plant growth.

In our work, we use purple light to create more introspective environments such as places for couples or places hosting one-on-one conversations, such as jazz bars or similar sophisticated night-time venues. Used in the landscape, purple light on evergreen trees gives a mystical silvery effect reminiscent of moonlight.

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