Lighting for Mental Performance

Lighting for Mental Performance

There are certain factors which influence the way people perform. The matter of lighting has been proven to be a main factor in study after study. Whether for a classroom or a professional office setting, the right lighting for mental performance is key to success and productivity. Let's take a closer look at this topic for a better understanding of lighting for mental performance.

How does light affect concentration?

When looking at lighting for mental performance, you need to understand why it matters. It has been proven that inadequate lighting in a space can lead to poor concentration, lower test scores for students, and a negative impact on mental health. With the right lighting solutions in place, you ensure proper concentration for various tasks, better memory retention, and even better moods for a win-win! In fact, a study in Germany carried out by ZNL and Osram found some surprising results in relation to lighting and mental ability. The study showed that students working under biologically-optimized classroom lights reached higher scores than the comparison group in standardized tests for matters such as concentration ability and performance speed.

Light can also play a role in how you feel emotionally which can in turn impact mental ability. A lack of proper lighting can lead to depression, especially occurrences of what is known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Proper light levels in a color temperature which mimics natural daylight helps to reduce depression caused by lack of light.

Color Temperature

Part of the way lighting affects mental performance is through the overall color temperature of the illumination. Color temperature is how cool (white) or warm (yellow) a light is in the illumination it puts out. The light color is important for a few reasons in a workspace where mental performance is the focus. For starters, a warmer color temperature isn't as suited for performance as a whiter choice since yellow signifies it's time to unwind and relax. This is why so many homes use warm yellow light to create a cozy relaxing atmosphere. With a whiter color temperature, the light mimics natural daylight which in turn affects our internal clock to make us more productive. For productivity and mental performance, aim for a clean white light measuring between 3500K-4000K on the Kelvin scale. The right color temperature alerts the brain that is it's time to focus and work whereas a too soothing color makes workers feel sleepy. Color temperature also plays a role in eye strain. If the color temperature is too yellow, a person may end up squinting to read text on a page or screen because it isn't as vibrant and bright.


The placement of the light source also plays a role in affecting mental clarity. When working in front of a computer screen as most workers do in today's world, the matter of lighting placement can impact mental focus in a few ways. If the light is hitting the screen directly, it will lead to a glare, eye strain, and even headaches which can impact mental ability. When choosing lighting for this reason, you want to layer light sources so you have multiple light directions being cast rather than one bright light overall.


When considering the right lighting for cognitive performance, the matter of distance plays a part. If the distance between the light and the workspace such as the desk is too far, it will make the area dimmer which will lower concentration and performance. You want the light fixture to be approximately 20-50 feet overhead, depending on the ceiling height, and there should be additional lighting on the sides of the area to avoid shadows which are at least 10 feet away from the work area if possible. This will layer the lighting in the room while avoiding focus-breaking eye strain from shadowy areas in a too overly bright overhead main fixture.

LED Benefits

When choosing the right solution for this aspect of lighting, LED is the clear winner in a few crucial ways. For starters, it offers the best range in color temperature and is the solution which most closely mimics natural light. Natural light is the best light source for productivity, but LED allows you to mimic it in areas where natural light simply isn't an option. LED also reduces glares thanks to diffusers and is shadow and flicker free to avoid eye strain or breaking mental focus. LED also offers the best lumen output so you can get the right brightness needed to improve mental ability. Best of all, it uses a lower wattage to create a brighter light so it saves on energy costs in the process. When looking for the best option to improve mental focus, LED is the smartest option on the market. It also comes in a wide range of fixture types and mounts which makes it easier than ever to opt for this already impressive lighting solution for your location.

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