What is the Best Color Temperature For Light Sensitivity?


Choosing the Right Bulbs

The changes in mood and health that lighting promotes depends entirely on the “warmth” or “coolness” of the light that the bulb you’re using gives off. This factor is measured in units called Kelvins, which are a direct indication of how many lumens a light source produces while in use. In most homes, you’ll find three types of lights:

  • Soft/warm white
  • Bright/cool white
  • Daylight

At a glance, most of these bulbs provide a drastically different look to any room they’re used. This is due to their ability to produce a higher or lower amount of lumen, which impacts both the amount and color of the light they give off in space. Soft, warm white lights lie in the 2,700 Kelvin range and give off a smoother, more yellow light than the others.

This light is often the best option for those suffering from light sensitivity migraines as they contain less blue-spectrum elements than the other options. Bright, cool white bulbs measure up at 4,100 Kelvin and provide a middle-of-the-road option. Daylight bulbs measure between 5,000 and 6,500 Kelvins and contain by far the brightest and bluest light of the three options, making it likely to worsen migraine symptoms.


Why Blue Light Makes Migraines Worse

There’s a reason that recommended light bulbs for those prone to migraines and headaches tend to be on the less blue end of the spectrum, and that reason can be found on the visible light spectrum. Each color has its wavelength that defines how it’s perceived. When you look at the spectrum, warmer colors like red and orange lie on an opposite end from tones like blue and purple. This is because these two are practically opposites in terms of wavelength strength.

Warm colors tend to have a lower wavelength while blue light and other cool colors have shorter, more frequently occurring wavelengths that tend to be harsher on the eyes. It’s been suggested that there’s a specific neural pathway from the eyes to the brain that negatively responds to the presence of these blue wavelengths, which is what ultimately leads to the development and worsening of headache symptoms. This is why those prone to migraines should consider reducing their exposure to bright blue LEDs around the house whenever possible.


The Green Light Study

The Boston study revealed that there might be a relief to be found in certain tones of green lighting, but why is this the case? In short, research indicates that decoding green light requires less work from both your eyes and your brain. Green lighting created smaller electrical signals between the eye and the brain during this study and required less strain from the brain to decode once it reached its destination.

For now, it’s impractical to fill your home with green bulbs. You have the option of creating a room filled with only green light, but that doesn’t solve the issue of isolating yourself from others to wrangle your symptoms, either. Fortunately, other solutions involving the findings of the green light study may become available in the coming years.

For example, a set of glasses that filter out all but this relieving green light is under development, along with bulbs that only provide pure green light of the type used during the study. In the meantime, though, seeing professionals about light therapy and other forms of treatment remain the best way to deal with your migraine symptoms.

The benefits of this research may lie mainly in the realm of the theoretical for now, but it promises to lead to some exciting future changes on how those suffering from migraines deal with light sensitivity.


Get Headache Relief

If you suffer from chronic migraines and are desperate to find some relief from the pain, contact the National Headache Institute to set up an appointment so you can discuss your options with a neurologist. After assessing the severity of your migraines, determining your triggers, and accounting for your personal risk factors, we can help you decide on the best treatment option to improve your quality of life.


Image Credit: Shutterstock/Inspiring

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