[Image above] Credit: Khuroshvili Ilya; Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Swirly light bulb, you’re out—LED light, you’re in.
Lighting giant GE just recently bid a fond farewell to CFL bulbs, announcing that the company would, sometime this year, cease manufacture and sales the oft-hated CFL bulbs.
“Now is the right time to transition from CFL to LED,” John Strainic, chief operating officer of consumer and conventional lighting at GE Lighting, says in a NY Times article about the switch. “There are so many choices that a consumer has for one socket in their home that it’s overwhelming. This will help simplify that.”
Although I’m skeptical that GE is trying to simplify our lives, rather than capitalize on a profitable business decision, the end result is no different—LED lights are poised to gain significant growth in the lighting world.
It’s true the efficiency of LED and CFL bulbs is comparable, but LED lights last much longer and solve some of the consumer pet peeves with CFL bulbs, such as harsh light, slow bulb warm-up, and difficulty dimming.
However, the initial drawback was that LED lights were much more expensive bulb choices. But that’s no longer true, thanks to advances in technology and policy.
“Prices dropped steadily, falling well below $5 for a basic bulb last year, in part because of government regulations making it easier for them to qualify for generous discounts,” according to the NY Times article.
Since GE announced its exclusivity with LED lights, it’s perhaps no surprise that the company is now rolling out spiffy new LED products. But the newest one I came across has me intrigued—LED lights that are better in sync with your circadian rhythms.
The new bulbs suggest they will bring harmony to your home, with a special multipack of different bubs tailored to improve your natural sleep–wake cycles. Called CbyGE, the LED bulbs are “designed to help users wake up in the morning and fall asleep at night,” according to an article on GE Reports.
Circadian rhythms govern our lives, so conforming our environment to adapt to these cycles, rather than fight them, actually holds some promise for a more in-tune lifecycle. But that doesn’t mean these bulbs can fix the havoc that daylight savings time can wreak on your rhythms—but that’s a whole different story.
“We’ve built an LED light that changes colors and helps the body conform better to its circadian rhythm,” Carmen Pastore, marketing leader for GE Lighting, says in the article.
The big difference with these lights is the hue of color they subtly emit. The lights contain a chip that can change the emitted light’s hue, allowing the light to adjust to humans’ natural rhythms, rather than the other way around.
Philips has a similar line of lighting products called Hue, although that system seems to be able to do more in regards to color. According to a Wired article, the Philips bulb contains 11 LED lights that can combine to create up to 16 million colors—perhaps making it more attractive as a party trick rather than a tool for natural harmony.
So why all the hype with hues?
Blue hues stimulate receptors in your eye that reduce melatonin levels, which induce sleep—so a bright blue morning sky is the signal for your body to wake up and get to work. Yellow and orange hues have an opposite effect—they simulate sunset, stimulating melatonin production and making you sleepy.
“This is 3 billion years of evolution we are dealing with,” Pastore says in the GE Reports article. “Our LED is helping the body adjust, rather than waiting for the body to catch up to technological progress.”
It’s no joke. Research has shown that blue light at night disrupts sleep patterns because it boosts attention and mood. So harnessing the right light at the right time can potentially help your body wake and sleep when it’s preprogrammed to do so.
I’m not a morning person—so if you’re like me, these bulbs may help you win your daily battle with the snooze alarm.
GE says the new bulbs last for 22.8 years, based on its calculations for 3 hours of daily use.
The smart bulbs are controllable with an app, allowing users to adjust the light hue to their time of day. The nighttime bulb also has a setting that allows it to automatically transition from evening to morning light. Read a full review of the CbyGE bulbs here.
Although I’m doubtful these bulbs would really have too big of an impact on your life and natural rhythms, it is probable that they could offer a slight hand. But then again, I’ll take any help I can get to roll out of bed.