Stressed Out? Try Sitting Under a Blue Light

Public Domain. David McEachan

How’s this for an easy natural remedy? Blue lighting is scientifically proven to help us relax faster when suffering from short-term stress.

Deep breaths, meditation, chamomile tea, a tirade of profanity screamed at a wall ... we all have our methods for dealing with short-term stress. Now new research from Spain has another method to add to the relax-quick toolkit: Blue light.

Scientists from the University of Granada and the School for Special Education San Rafael have proven that blue lighting hastens relaxation after acute psychosocial stress in comparison with conventional white lighting. And although the study was on the small side – just 12 participants – the research was unique in that it used electrophysiological measurements for an objective evaluation.

The experiment subjected participants to short-term stress (acute stress), like that which might occur during social or interpersonal relationships – think an argument with a friend or when someone is pressuring you to meet a tough deadline. This kind of stress is very common and negatively affects people's health and quality of life, the researchers note.

After performing the stressful task, the subjects were sent to lie down in the "multisensory stimulation room" at the School for Special Education San Rafael. Divided into two groups, one with blue lighting and the other with white, bio-signals (like heart rate and brain activity) were monitored throughout the whole session.

blue light
© A participant during the experiment with blue lighting. UGR

The results showed that blue lighting accelerated the relaxation process, in comparison with conventional white lighting. Not only did 83 percent of the participants report that the blue lighting made them feel significantly more relaxed than the conventional white lighting, the bio data backed them up. The study notes: “The presence of blue lighting accelerates the reduction of stress level in comparison with conventional white lighting. In our experiment a reduction of more than three minutes (1.1 vs. 3.5 minutes) was achieved with the blue lighting till level of stress converged in both groups.”

The authors conclude that their findings could be useful in clinical and educational environments. They also note that the information could prove helpful in “daily-life context,” like during stressful periods of work or at home.