High-tech lighting companies are redefining what it means to set the mood. Innovative brands are introducing scientifically calibrated lighting, based on research about the physiological effects of different wavelengths, to the market for the first time. 

According to the New York Times, scientists have found that different wavelengths can cause real physiological changes in our bodies, impacting everything from our energy levels to our emotions. They’ve even discovered that certain wavelengths may help wounds heal faster by enhancing collagen regeneration. 

High-tech light bulbs have existed in some form for years—in hospitals, they’re used to treat jaundice in newborns—but they’ve only recently become available to the average customer. There are a range of bulbs for different functions, from lights installed in schools to help students stay alert, to the increasingly popular Sleepy Baby Bulb made by the Lighting Science Group

Designed to help infants doze through the night, the Sleepy Baby is one of several sleep-facilitating bulbs currently on the market. While exposure to traditional artificial lights can suppress production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, the new smart bulbs are less invasive. Rather than actively making people sleepy, they emit longer wavelength light, which interferes less with melatonin production, helping people feel naturally drowsy at night. Other companies—like Phillips, whose wi-fi-connected Hue bulb creates "lighting recipes" for different moods—are working on developing bulbs that promote alertness without blocking natural melatonin production.

Humans have long understood, at least intuitively, that different kinds of lighting can produce distinct psychological effects. For instance, there's no shortage of songs about romantic moonlit evenings. But we’re only just starting to figure out the scientific explanation for this phenomenon. As scientists continue to learn about the physiological effects of light, it’s likely so-called “smart” bulbs will become more and more sophisticated.

[h/t: New York Times]