The Best and Worst Light Bulbs for Your Health

Discover the Best and Worst Light Bulbs for Your Health

When you think about factors that can harm your health, you may think of smoking, poor diet, stress, but light bulbs? You may be surprised to find that the light bulbs you use can play a role in how you sleep, how you wake up, and even your overall health. Let’s take a closer look at common light bulb options and discover the one that is best for your health and well-being.

Red Spectrum Light Bulbs

For optimal sleep, use red spectrum light bulbs in your bedroom in the evening. The red spectrum stimulates melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland that aids in falling asleep while cancelling sleep disrupting blue light that may be emitted from electronic devices.

To encourage better sleep, swap nightlights in your bedroom to pink or red bulbs to prevent sleep disruption, and replace your standard bulbs with a red spectrum bulb. Not sure you’ll be a fan of a rosy-hued room? Red spectrum doesn’t refer to the physical appearance of the light and they give of a “normal” glow while still stimulating melatonin production.

Halogen Light Bulbs

Halogen lights are a blue-spectrum light bulb that offer a white, bright light that mimics daylight. While these work well as task lighting in the kitchen or if you’re doing a craft project and need a lot of light, these overly bright lights can lead to eye strain and even sunburn if used as overhead or ambient lighting for long periods.

Also, it’s best to not use halogen bulbs after dusk because the blue light spectrum can keep your brain awake and inhibit the production of melatonin. These two factors can lead to an inability to fall asleep or cause disrupted sleep.

It’s also important to note that halogen bulbs burn incredibly hot that they can cause burns. Also, don’t touch the bulbs with bare skin because the oils left behind can become so hot that the bulb itself may shatter.

Incandescent Light Bulbs

Incandescent light bulbs use electricity to heat a wire filament encased in glass until it’s hot enough to glow, providing a soft, diffused white light. These are the traditional, inexpensive bulbs that were commonly used throughout the home until recently when other forms of lighting became preferred. Incandescent bulbs are highly inefficient, and while their light is gentle on the eyes and doesn’t affect brain chemistry, they burn out quickly and are bad for the environment.

Incandescents usually come in clear, frosted and daylight options. I recommend using the frosted or clear. Avoid the daylight in your home, especially in the evening to reduce melatonin disruption.

LED Light Bulbs

led bulb and health

Light emitting diodes, or LED lighting has become the most common option for home light bulbs due to their efficiency. Unlike incandescent bulbs that require 40-60 watts and only last 1000 hours, LEDs only use 12 watts and last up to 25,000 hours. However, there are health concerns that are coming to light regarding LED bulbs.

  • 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

  • These bulbs can increase risk of macular degeneration, a disease of the eye that leads to blindness.

  • 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 or in nightlights in the home, and if using an LED bulb for extended periods, consider buying a pair of blue light filtering glasses.

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CFL Light Bulbs

Compact fluorescent bulbs were the first energy efficient bulbs to replace incandescent light bulbs. While these bulbs are efficient, they are rapidly falling out of favor, with good reason. These bulbs contain high levels of mercury vapor, so if they break, that mercury is released into your home, creating a dangerous environment, especially for children.

If that wasn’t bad enough, CFL bulbs also give off UVB lighting and high levels of blue light, which, as we’ve mentioned can disrupt sleep and cause insomnia.

While you don’t want your home to be dark, you do want to create as healthy a home as possible for yourself and your family. Using a combination of red spectrum bulbs and LED lighting seems to be a safer option, though consider getting light filtering glasses if you plan to use an LED bulb for longer lengths of time.

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