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The expert’s advice on using light at home

Colour and light are constant factors in home furnishing. Wanting to know more on the subject led us to professor Thorbjörn Laike. We asked him for advice on how to apply science in an everyday context.

A pair of sheer IKEA ROSALILL curtains with white lines on a red background are letting some sunshine into a room.
A pair of sheer IKEA ROSALILL curtains with white lines on a red background are letting some sunshine into a room.

If you can, wake up to daylight

“In terms of waking up feeling alert and well rested, natural daylight is second to none. If you can, sleep in a room facing east.”

Thorbjörn Laike knows what he is talking about. He holds a PhD in psychology and is an associate professor of environmental psychology at Lund University. His field of expertise includes the impact of light on the human psyche. Colours – as the variations of light that they are – are part and parcel of this field.

“Just as daylight is good for waking up,” Thorbjörn continues, “a recipe for a good night’s sleep is to block out light as much as possible.”

An ideal way to balance the two is a block-out roller blind. Complete darkness when you need it or a quick change to invite outside light in. Even better, with a TRÅDFRI remote control for your blind, getting out of bed is optional.

Go for the warm glow for your bedtime reading

“Screens of all kinds are based on short-wavelength, cold light, which makes it harder for us to come to rest. This is an effect that is unrelated to what the screen is showing. In other words, a proper book is preferable when you want to be lulled to sleep. And use a bedside lamp with a warmer, more yellow light, with no adverse effects on your sleepiness.”

Use colours and patterns to set the mood

“While blue and green have a calming effect on humans, colours on the red side of the spectrum tend to make the brain more active, to energise us. It’s the same way with patterns. The more intense, the greater the effect.”

If you combine block-out curtains with a set of colourful, sheer ones, you are in other words prepared for everything. Like filtering daylight with checkered, red-white curtains to raise the mood. Or shut your block-outs to draw the day to a close.

While environmental psychology is a growing scientific field, it is still young. Thorbjörn Laike, in closing, points this out: “Some early experiments have evolved into myths that sometimes are mistaken for scientific findings. An infamous example dubbed ‘the pink effect’ implies that colouring the cell walls of a prison pink raised the spirits of inmates. It makes for a nice story – but the conclusion is disputed, and it hasn’t been satisfactorily repeated.”

We love to see our customers get creative with our products. Go for it! But please note that altering or modifying IKEA products so they can no longer be re-sold or used for their original purpose, means the IKEA commercial guarantees and your right to return the products will be lost.

Made by
Interior designer: Elin Stierna
Photographer: Henrik Petersson
Writer: Henrik Annemark