When you don’t feel quite right, maybe it’s the lack of light in your life? Major depression, delayed sleep phase disorder and skin disorders such as acne and eczema are all ailments that can be fixed with a good old dose of sunlight. This article will help you understand the science behind choosing lights and lamps to simulate sunlight and enhance wellbeing and productivity in your home and office.

The right kind of light is essential to a healthy mind. Light therapy is used to help banish mental disorders such as depression. Photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels

Do you get your daily dose of vital Vitamin D?

Sunlight is vital to wellbeing. Photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels

Vitamin D is a rare commodity for most of us living north of the equator, especially for the cubicle-bound workaholics among us. We need a daily dose of Vitamin D-nurturing sunlight to function properly. Without Vitamin D we suffer mentally and physically. Apart from the sun, the only other sources of Vitamin D are oily fish (salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines), red meat and eggs.

What is Sunlight?

It’s commonly assumed that scientists already know everything there is to know about the sun. The truth is, nobody actually knows what the sun is. Yes, scientists have devised ways of measuring the range of visible light sandwiched between ultraviolet (UV) and infrared light, but no one can create a sun in a lab or manufacture a lamp with the all the same properties of sunlight.

Measuring the Light Spectrum

The electromagnetic frequencies of light are measured in nanometres (nm), defining their atomic wavelength. A nanometre is one thousand-millionth of a metre. The higher a number on the nanometre scale, the shorter the wavelength. For example, 10 nm is a shorter wavelength than 1 nm. 

Types of Light 
  • Ultraviolet light ranges from 100 to 400 nm
  • Visible light ranges from 400 to 700 nm
  • Infrared light ranges from 700 to 1,000,000 nm
There are likely many more properties of light which simply cannot be seen or measured by the scientific community. If they could create pure sunlight in a single bulb, the Scandinavian market would be awash with Vitamin D lamps for the bleak region’s light therapy treatments, which we’ll come back to in a minute.

How Low Light Impacts Mental Health

Almost all plants and animals need light to thrive and survive. We, like plants, look our best when getting at least six hours a day of full sunlight. Anything less and we begin to droop like an unloved geranium.

Biology boffins have done extensive studies on the effects of poor light in the home and workplace. The morose list of negative mental health impacts is frightening, especially when you consider just how little time we usually spend in the sun, and how little consideration we usually give to such a vital component to wellness. 

Here are some of the problems associated with inadequate lighting in the workplace.
  • Low productivity
  • High rate of human error
  • Inability to match or discern correct colors
  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches
  • Reduced mental alertness
  • General malaise
  • Low morale among employees

These symptoms of light deficiency are intrinsically linked to depression. If you suffer from the melancholies, it could well be wistful longing for hazy summer days. You are not alone. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 264 million people of all ages worldwide suffer from depression.

Perhaps the massive number of people feeling down-in-the-dumps in the world is due to billions of people living in cities so far away from the sun during certain seasons that they don’t even get the required daily dose of light for a plant in an entire month. 
Do you live in one of these depressingly dark cities? 

Cities with Least Sunshine in December

         City,                                   Country Hours of Sunlight per Month
  • Dikson, Russia                  None

  • Torshavn, Faroe Islands    6 hrs

  • Yakutsk, Russia                 9 hrs

  • Iqaluit, Canda                   12 hrs

  • Moscow, Russia                14 hrs

  • Tallinn, Estonia                 19 hrs

  • Chongqing, China             20 hrs

  • Reykjavik, Iceland            22 hrs

  • Riga, Latvia                      22 hrs

  • Warsaw, Poland                25 hrs

Is there a cheap alternative to sunlight?

Scandinavian or Nordic lamp and lighting designs are exceptionally good, because they are experts at lighting up interiors to enhance well being during long, dark winters with little or no sunlight. 

If you are shopping for lamps in the Nordic region, German online lamp store Lampenwelt GmbH has a vast range of about 30,000 lighting products for the home and office available at low prices with Lampegiganten rabattkode coupon codes.

Being enshrouded in long days of darkness in the winter months, Scandinavians are also pioneers in the field of light therapy to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Light therapy treatments, also called phototherapy or heliotherapy, expose sufferers to light that closely resembles sunlight. Read on to learn how to choose lights for your own light therapy treatments at home or in the office.

How to Categorize Lighting Compared to Sunlight

Light is measured in two ways; illumination level (brightness) and colour temperature. Photo by fotografierende from Pexels

Light Illumination Levels (Lux)

Illumination levels of light are measured in Lux. A dingy public space is about 30 lux. A very bright space could be 3,000 to 10,000 lux.

Here are the recommended illumination levels for different types of spaces according to the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA).

Type of Space / Activity
Ranges of Illuminations (Lux)
Public spaces with dark surroundings
Working spaces where visual tasks are only occasionally performed
Lounge or Bedroom
100 - 300
Office or Classroom 
300 - 500
Workshop or Kitchen
300 - 750

Colour Temperature of Light

Colour temperature is measured in Kelvin, which refers to the electromagnetic frequency of light waves. It’s the opposite to things being hot or cold to the touch. 

In this case, a high colour temperature of 5,000 K or more is a cool blue. Low colour temperatures of 2,700 to 3,000 K are a ‘warm’ glow.

When you are looking for lamps and light bulbs to make your home or office ‘warmer’, use the table below to compare these colour temperatures below.

Colour Temperature
Match flame, low pressure sodium lamps
1700 K
Candle flame, sunset, sunrise
1850 K
Standard incandescent lamps
2400 K
Soft white incandescent lamps
2550 K
"Soft white" compact fluorescent and LED lamps
2700 K
Warm white compact fluorescent and LED lamps
3000 K
Floodlights and studio lamps
3200 K
Studio "CP" light
3350 K
Daylight looking straight ahead at the horizon
5000 K
Cool white fluorescent lamps and  daylight compact fluorescent lamps (CFL)
5000 K
Vertical (white) daylight, electronic flash
5500 – 6000 K
Xenon short-arc lamp
6200 K
Overcast daylight
6500 K
LCD or CRT screen
6500 – 9500 K
Clear blue sky (looking straight up)
15,000 – 27,000 K

As you can see from the table above, the warm glow of a sunrise or sunset is a low colour temperature of about 1,700 K but an overcast day of white sunlight is a higher colour temperature of about 6,500 K; similar to a camera flash. A clear blue sky is a much higher colour temperature of up to 27,000 K.

Color Rendering Index (CRI)

The CRI is not the apparent color of the actual light source. It is a quantitative measure of how well a light source reveals the true colors of objects that it illuminates compared to natural sunlight. Full spectrum white sunlight has a CRI of 100. A light bulb with a low CRI has more of a sunrise or sunset glow. Fluorescent lights have a CRI range from about 50 up to 98. LEDs mostly have a CRI of 80 but can go as high as 98.

Correlated Colour Temperature (CCT)

The apparent color of the light source itself is the correlated color temperature (CCT). 

Are there any lamps which can emulate the full spectrum of sunlight?

Frankly, no. There is no man-made light which emits the same “full spectrum” of soothing sunlight but there are some types of lamps that come close, such as incandescent light bulbs.

Why Incandescent Bulbs are More Like Natural Sunlight

Have you noticed that incandescent light bulbs with a glowing filament inside appear to have a warm, cosy glow compared to the fluorescent strip-lights in offices and public spaces? 
The reason is that incandescent bulbs emit a broader and continuous spectrum of light, which is similar to the way sunlight works. Fluorescent lamps emit ‘spikes’ in only parts of the light spectrum.

The term ‘full-spectrum’ has been popularized as a marketing term to promote light bulbs which have a colour temperature similar to sunlight, which is really only a slim frequency in the entire electromagnetic spectrum of light.

An example of the range of colour temperatures achieved with one incandescent and two fluorescent light bulbs. The 60 W incandescent bulb has a warm glow with a comparatively low colour temperature of 2,700 K.

What to Look for When Choosing a Lamp

Here is a definition to help you choose lamps or bulbs that are as close as you can get to ‘full spectrum’ light similar to sunlight:
  • Colour temperature of at least 5,000 Kelvin
  • Colour rendering index (CRI) of at least 90
  • A light spectrum which comprises all parts of the visible spectrum between 380 and 780 nm
  • Includes UV light between 340 and 380 nm
If you are in Germany, the Netherlands or Belgium you can get discounts on the range of light therapy lamps and mood lights in the Household department at Alternate stores with Alternate gutscheincode coupons.
Spruce up Your Wellness Work Space With Tropical Plants

Tropical plants flourish indoors when you have good lighting which mimics sunlight. 

Photo by Polina Zimmerman from Pexels

As a final touch to your indoor replica of the great outdoors with sun-like lighting, you can add some tropical plants, which will thrive in better lighting. The type of plant you choose really makes a difference to the overall mood. You can soften harsh edges with a cascading String of Pearls in a pot and fill in corners with African milk bushes, Egyptian papyrus or areca palms.

Read more about lighting considerations for illuminating various areas in the home.