Working late? The colour of your light may be affecting your mood.
According to a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, blue or white light has the worst effect on one’s mood late at night, whereas red light has less of an impact.
Working on Siberian hamsters, researchers from Ohio State University measured the density of dendritic spines in the hippocampus after for weeks of exposure to either white light, blue light, red light, and no light. Dendritic spines hair-like growths that facilitate sending chemical messages between cells. A low density of dendritic spines has been linked to depression.
Hamsters exposed to blue light were the worst off, followed by those exposed to white light. Those exposed to red light didn’t do nearly as bad, but hamsters with the greatest density of dendritic spines, and therefore the lowest incidence of depression, were those who spent the night in darkness.
In terms of application to humans, previous studies have indicated that a natural sleep schedule that follows daylight and darkness is best. But, if you must stay up late, maybe go with the red light. If you’re on your computer late, consider installing a program like f.lux that’ll alter your colours according to the time of day. Or get some sleep. That’s good too.