Light sensitivity, or its scientific name photophobia, is often thought of as a condition or the result of a condition. While that oftentimes is the case, it can also come as a result of our environment. Libraries, office spaces, classrooms, and any room really are usually plagued with harsh white lights to help boost productivity. White lights, however, have been proven to substantially increase hormone levels affecting women in different ways than the male counterpart. Since women and men have different proportions of hormones it only makes sense that a hormone affecting light would impact us differently. Ultimately, there are two main factors that contribute to light sensitivity in women: color and intensity.
Most often consumers have the choice of purchasing a light bulb that lies on a spectrum generally between a warm, yellow light and a bright, blue light. The white and blue lights tend to be better for the environment and more cost effective which is largely why we see so many. The issue with white lights is that they tend to be pretty intense and less mimicking of the natural light. One study showed that exposure to white lights led to spikes in cortisol levels along with testosterone and thyroid hormones. Since women are more sensitive to shifts in hormonal levels, the endocrine system will respond to these environmental factors differently. Exposure to harsh lights can hinder productivity levels in women as the body will respond as if it would in a high stress environment, as opposed to men who actually prefer blue light. Implementing different lights in the workplace or at school could impact workers and students significantly. It could be interesting to have options of blue or white light rooms in a library or office space to promote a higher productivity level.
The next study I chose to focus on examined the level of alertness both men and women experienced in the presence of blue light in the dark. Men had higher reaction times and increased alertness when exposed whereas women had a slower reaction time and were unable to focus. Not only did men perform better when exposed to the blue light, they actually slept better too. Women on the other hand had similar results under softer light conditions with lower intensity. The preference for softer light most reliably comes as a result of hormonal differences and the bodies reaction to various environmental factors like intensity and color. Not only is it important to consider these factors, it is important to teach more people about it because it could truly change someone’s productivity. If a female has a blue light room, it could be beneficial for her to change the light in her room while doing homework or focusing. This could also be beneficial for sales for blue light glasses, fairy lights, and just lightbulb companies in general to promote.
At the end of the day light preference is just that-a preference- and each individual will have varying reactions to the light around them. Considering the effect that something simple like light can have on someone’s ability to focus or do work is something that many would not often think about, but it is actually such a present factor in everyone’s life. It is crazy to think about how much out hormones really affect us and always reminds us to focus on our health and balance as wel!l Next time you’re out buying a new light bulb, lamp, or even blue light glasses, consider the impact the type of light can have on your productivity.