Take it from Dr. Woody: LEDs help you relax at the office

Plenty of research has emerged recently showing that different wavelength light can alter human moods, well-being and mentality both for better and worse.

There must be something to it, because the discussion is now entering the canon of popular health literature. The latest evidence comes from Men's Fitness magazine, which cites a guy called Dr. Woody lauding light as a wellness aid.

In a story that reads as much as an advertisement for Philips Hue bulbs as it does anything else, the magazine notes that office cubicle workers can alter the frequency, warmth and colour of their adjustable LED bulbs to suit their activity.

'If you’re marooned in fluorescent-lit cubeland, don’t despair,' Men's Fitness states. 'According to Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, Ph.D., an organizational psychologist and executive coach, you can fight that anxiety-inducing ultrabright light by putting a lamp on your desk and installing a Philips Hue bulb...a unique adjustable light bulb.'

The story doesn't reveal much about Doc Woody's background or affiliations. But he at least seems to practice what he preaches.

'For example, when I’m reading, I’ll use the concentration setting, with its cooler blueish colors; if I’m just taking a breather, I’ll use the relaxed setting, which is almost red,' says the switched-on Ph.D and Philips Hue user.

It's a bit of a stretch for Men's Fitness to call Hue 'unique,' as there are plenty of other adjustable lamps on the market, from companies including Osram, GE, LIFX and more. They all tap into the digital nature of LEDs (an LED is a light-emitting diode, or semiconductor) to adjust their light frequency.

As many studies have revealed, high frequency light – 'cold' or blue spectrum lighting – tends to keep us awake and alert, which can be good or bad depending on the time of day. Lower frequency warmer colours in the red and orange spectrum relax us.

If you are going to follow the lead of Dr. Woody and handle a Hue, then the office might be a good place to experiment, because you might not be able to afford it unless you get your boss pay. Philips won't sell you an individual bulb unless you first buy a bulb-inclusive 'starter kit' that costs £125 ($191) in the UK for a colour version, or £80 ($122) for a starter with bulbs that change brightness but not colours. The kits include wired and wireless gear for remote control via methods including phone apps.

The smart bulbs – £25 ($38) from Philips once you pony up for the starter - do more than change colour and intensity; if you want, you can program them to pulsate and modulate to music and TV shows, to flash alerts such as stock prices, sports score or burglaries. Or they could simply light your room, but that would be boring.

You can also control them from around the world – no more fiddling with mechanical wall-socket timers before you leave on holiday. Instead, you can fiddle with a phone app, and thereby increase your screen time while you're taking a much deserved break.

We wonder if Dr. Woody thinks that's a good thing.

Photo is from Dean Drobet via Shutterstock

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