What Is The Best Colour Light For Reading & Studying At Night?

What Is The Best Colour Light For Reading & Studying At Night?

In our modern world, where technology has become an integral part of our lives, reading and studying at night has become a common practice. Whether you're a student preparing for exams, a professional catching up on work, or simply an avid reader indulging in a good book, the choice of lighting can significantly impact your experience. While the debate over the best colour light for reading and studying at night has been ongoing, a fascinating concept has emerged in recent years - red light therapy. 

In this article, we'll delve into the intricacies of choosing the right colour light for your night-time activities and explore the surprising benefits of red light therapy in promoting reading and alertness.

The Science of Lighting and Its Effects on the Human Body

The science of lighting, known as "lighting design" or "architectural lighting," encompasses various aspects of how light sources, their intensity, colour, and distribution can impact the human body. This field considers both artificial and natural lighting, and it has become increasingly important due to the significant effects lighting can have on human well-being, health, and productivity. Here are some key points about the effects of lighting on the human body:

  1. Circadian Rhythm Regulation: The human body has an internal biological clock known as the circadian rhythm. This rhythm is primarily regulated by exposure to natural light and darkness. Proper lighting design can help regulate sleep-wake cycles, hormone production, and overall health by aligning indoor lighting conditions with the natural progression of daylight.

  1. Colour Temperature and Melatonin: The colour temperature of light, measured in Kelvin (K), influences the body's production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep. Cooler colour temperatures (higher Kelvin values) with bluish light can suppress melatonin production, making it suitable for daytime and alertness, while warmer colour temperatures (lower Kelvin values) with reddish light are more conducive to relaxation and night-time. Red light therapy helps you to relax, therefore controlling anxiety, which translates to better reading.

  1. Blue Light and Health: Blue light, especially in the shorter wavelengths, can impact sleep quality and disrupt circadian rhythms if overexposed during the evening. This is because blue light mimics natural daylight and signals wakefulness to the body. Overexposure to blue light from electronic devices before bedtime can lead to sleep disturbances.

  1. Productivity and Alertness: Proper lighting design can enhance productivity and alertness in work and study environments. Bright, cool white light is often used in office spaces to promote focus and concentration. Dynamic lighting systems that mimic the changing qualities of natural light throughout the day can maintain occupants' energy levels and cognitive performance.

  1. Visual Comfort and Health: Inadequate or poorly designed lighting can strain the eyes and lead to discomfort, headaches, and even more severe health issues over time. Lighting that eliminates glare, provides uniform illumination, and prevents excessive contrast can contribute to visual comfort.

  1. Mood and Emotional Well-Being: Light can influence mood and emotional well-being. Natural light and environments with warmer, softer lighting are often associated with positive emotions and relaxation. Different lighting scenarios can create specific atmospheres, from cosy and intimate to lively and energetic.

  1. Aging and Lighting: As people age, their visual acuity and sensitivity to glare tend to decrease. Proper lighting design becomes essential in environments like senior living facilities and healthcare centres to ensure safety, comfort, and optimal visibility.

  1. Environmental Sustainability: Energy-efficient lighting solutions, such as LED (light-emitting diode) technology, not only reduce electricity consumption but also offer greater control over lighting quality and colour temperature. This can further contribute to circadian rhythm regulation and energy savings.

  1. Biophilic Design: Biophilic design integrates elements of nature into indoor environments. Incorporating natural lighting patterns, such as variations in intensity and colour throughout the day, can improve occupant well-being and connection to the environment.

The science of lighting explores how light impacts various physiological and psychological aspects of the human body. Lighting design takes into account factors such as colour temperature, intensity, distribution, and timing to create environments that promote health, well-being, productivity, and emotional comfort.

The Traditional Debate: Warm vs. Cool Light

The age-old debate surrounding the best colour light for reading and studying at night usually revolves around the distinction between warm and cool light. Warm light, often categorised as light with a colour temperature below 3000K, emits a soft and cosy glow similar to the warm tones of candlelight or incandescent bulbs. On the other hand, cool light, with a colour temperature above 4000K, has a bluish tint resembling natural daylight.

Proponents of warm light argue that it creates a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere conducive to winding down before bedtime. It reduces eye strain and promotes a sense of calm, which is particularly beneficial if you're engaging in leisurely reading or non-demanding tasks.

Conversely, cool light is believed to enhance alertness and focus. Its resemblance to natural daylight can help keep your brain awake and energised, which is advantageous when you're tackling complex academic material or trying to meet work deadlines.

Red Light Therapy: Illuminating the Benefits

In recent years, red light therapy has emerged as a fascinating topic in the realm of lighting and health. Also known as photo biomodulation, red light therapy involves exposure to low levels of red or near-infrared light. While its applications have been explored for various purposes, including skincare and pain relief, its potential benefits for reading and studying at night are gaining attention.

How Red Light Therapy Works To Help With Reading At Night

Red light therapy, also known as photo biomodulation or low-level laser therapy, involves the use of red or near-infrared light to stimulate various biological processes in the body's cells. While red light therapy is not typically used specifically to improve reading at night, it can have potential benefits that could indirectly contribute to better reading conditions in low-light settings. Several red light therapy reviews have proven that using this form of therapy actually works. Here's how red light therapy works and its potential effects on reading at night:

  1. Cellular Energy Production: Red light therapy is thought to enhance cellular energy production by stimulating the mitochondria, often referred to as the "powerhouses" of the cells. This increased energy production can potentially lead to improved cell function and overall cellular health.

  1. Blood Circulation: Red light therapy has been shown to improve blood circulation by promoting the release of nitric oxide, a molecule that helps dilate blood vessels. Better circulation can lead to improved oxygen and nutrient delivery to cells, including those in the eyes and brain.

  1. Eye Health: Improved blood circulation can have positive effects on eye health by delivering more oxygen and nutrients to the retinal cells. This could potentially lead to better visual acuity and reduced eye strain, which might make reading in low-light conditions more comfortable.

  1. Mitigating Eye Strain: Red light therapy's potential ability to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation could indirectly contribute to reduced eye strain. If your eyes are less fatigued and stressed, you might find it easier to read for extended periods, even in dim lighting.

  1. Regulation of Sleep Hormones: While red light therapy primarily uses longer wavelengths of light (usually around 660-850 nm), which are different from the blue light that affects sleep, some research suggests that exposure to red and near-infrared light might influence melatonin production and circadian rhythm regulation. If red light therapy helps regulate your sleep patterns, you might find it easier to read at night without disrupting your sleep.

  1. Relaxation and Visual Comfort: Red light is often associated with warmth and relaxation. If you use red light therapy before reading at night, it might create a calming environment that helps you unwind and feel more comfortable while reading.

It's important to note that while red light therapy has shown promising effects in various areas, its effects on specific activities like reading at night may vary from person to person. Additionally, scientific research on the direct impact of red light therapy on reading at night is limited, and more studies are needed to establish a clear connection.

If you're interested in exploring red light therapy for potential benefits related to reading and night vision, it's recommended to consult with a medical professional or eye specialist before starting any light therapy regimen. They can provide personalised guidance based on your individual needs and health considerations.

Practical Implementation of Red Light Therapy

Incorporating red light therapy into your night-time reading and studying routine is relatively simple. Here are some practical steps you can take:

  1. Select the Right Light Source: Look for red light therapy devices that emit wavelengths in the range of 630 to 850 nanometres. These wavelengths have been shown to be most effective in stimulating cellular activity and promoting various health benefits. So, choosing the most appropriate red light therapy wavelengths is important.

  1. Positioning and Timing: Set up your red light therapy device in a way that it provides gentle illumination without directly shining into your eyes. Position it at a comfortable distance, and consider using it for short intervals of 15-30 minutes during your reading or studying sessions.

  1. Combine with Other Lighting: Since reading and studying might require a bit more illumination than red light therapy alone can provide, consider using a combination of red light and warm white light. This combination can provide the optimal balance between alertness and comfort.

  1. Minimise Blue Light Exposure: As part of your pre-sleep routine, gradually reduce the intensity of lighting, and avoid exposure to blue light from electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. This will help your body transition to a sleep-friendly state.

What is The Best Light For Studying At Night?

The best light for studying at night is one that provides sufficient illumination without causing eye strain or disrupting your sleep patterns. Here are some factors to consider when choosing the best light for studying at night:

  1. Colour Temperature: Opt for a light source with a colour temperature in the cooler spectrum, around 4000K to 6500K. This range of colour temperatures mimics natural daylight and promotes alertness and focus. However, it's important to avoid extremely cool or blue light, especially close to bedtime, as it can interfere with your sleep.

  1. Brightness: Ensure that the light is bright enough to illuminate your study area without causing glare or discomfort. A desk lamp or overhead light with adjustable brightness settings can be useful, allowing you to control the intensity of the light based on your needs.

  1. Uniformity: Choose a light source that provides even and uniform illumination across your study area. Uneven lighting can lead to eye strain and make it difficult to focus on your tasks.

  1. Direct vs. Indirect Lighting: Indirect lighting, such as using a lamp with a shade or diffuser, can help reduce glare and create a softer, more comfortable illumination. Direct lighting, while providing focused light, should be positioned and adjusted to prevent glare on your reading or study materials.

  1. Avoid Harsh Glare: Position your light source so that it doesn't create direct glare on your screen or reading materials. Glare can cause discomfort and reduce visibility.

  1. Task Lighting: Consider using a desk lamp with an adjustable arm and head. This allows you to direct the light precisely where you need it for reading and studying.

  1. Warmth and Comfort: While cooler light is generally better for alertness, you might prefer a slightly warmer light if you find it more comfortable for extended periods of reading or studying. Warm white light in the range of 2700K to 3500K can create a cosy and relaxing atmosphere.

  1. Avoid Blue Light Before Bedtime: If you're studying close to bedtime, it's advisable to shift to warmer, dimmer lighting as the evening progresses. Blue light, especially in the evening, can suppress melatonin production and affect your sleep quality.

  1. Personal Preference: Everyone's visual comfort preferences are different. Experiment with different lighting setups and colour temperatures to find what works best for you.

Remember that a well-lit study environment goes beyond just the light source itself. Proper ergonomics, including a comfortable chair, appropriate desk height, and proper screen positioning, also play a crucial role in creating an effective and comfortable study space. Additionally, taking regular breaks to rest your eyes and stretch can help reduce eye strain during extended study sessions.


In the ever-evolving landscape of lighting and its impact on human health, red light therapy has emerged as a promising tool for enhancing alertness and promoting cognitive function during night-time reading and studying sessions. By harnessing the power of red and near-infrared light, individuals can create an environment that supports focus and attention without compromising sleep quality. As research in this field continues to unfold, integrating red light therapy into our night-time routines could revolutionise the way we approach our academic and leisure activities after the sun sets. So, the next time you're settling in for a late-night reading session, consider adding a touch of red light to your environment and experience the potential benefits for yourself.