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The Color of Your Night Light Affects Mood

Update Date: Aug 06, 2013 05:00 PM EDT

For young children still learning how to be independent, a night-light can come in handy. Not only are night-lights useful for children, they are also useful for lighting hallways for midnight trips to the bathroom or kitchen. Since night-lights are created with multiple designs and different colors, people have a lot to choose from. According to a new study, researchers found that the color of the night-light can play a huge factor in affecting people's moods.

For this study, the researchers used hamster models to test the effects of different colored lights. The researchers exposed the lights to hamsters during the nighttime when they are awake and active. The researchers discovered that blue light had the worst effects on hamsters in terms of mood. Hamsters that were exposed to blue light had more depressive symptoms and changes noticeable in the brain that were associated with depression. White light followed blue light in terms of having negative effects on the brain. Hamsters that were exposed to red light fared better and had fewer symptoms.

"Light at night may result in parts of the brain regulating mood receiving signals during times of the day when they shouldn't," the co-author, Tracey Bedrosian said. Bedrosian is a postdoctoral researcher at the Salk Institute. "This may be why light at night seems to be linked to depression in some people."

The only group of hamsters that exhibited normal moods and behaviors were not exposed to light at all and moved around in the darkness. The researchers believe that these findings could potentially be applied to humans. For people who work late nights and night shifts, the color of the lights could affect their mood. For example, people who work the security desk at night and are exposed to blue light could be at a higher risk of developing depression.

"Our findings suggest that if we could use red light when appropriate for night-shift workers, it may not have some of the negative effects on their health that white light does," Nelson said. Furthermore, for young children, a red night-light might be the best option.

The study was published in the journal, Neuroscience. The press release can be found here.

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