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Can a Lightbulb Help You Sleep Better?

Not all bulbs are created equal. Two new products help you fall asleep at night and feel more alert in the morning.

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The human body is designed to be remarkably in tune with its natural environment. Take, for instance, your eyes: In addition to showing you what’s happening around you, they’re packed with retinal ganglion cells that communicate with hormonal control centers in the brain. Taking cues from the sun, that communication helps you feel peppy in the morning and sleepy in the evening.

When you’re sitting in an office all day, that doesn’t really happen.

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Most of us sit under fluorescent lightbulbs, which emit loads of blue light--a type of light that suppresses melatonin and may keep you awake longer than you'd like. In fact, a Harvard University study suggests that being exposed to blue light can seriously mess with your circadian rhythm. And if you’re toiling away under blue lights every night on a graveyard shift, the situation is much more dire. The World Health Organization went so far as to name working the night shift as a probable carcinogen, linking it to cancer in both men and women.

To find rest in an electric world, consider LED lights that are built to work with your circadian rhythm. LightingScience has two such options: One is designed to help you sleep, and another is designed to wake you up. The light designed for sleep, called “Good Night,” emits less blue light than the standard bulb, which will work with your body's hormones to help you get a better night's sleep. (It’s the same bulb used by NASA to help astronauts sleep in space.) We tossed that one in our bedrooms. LightingScience's “Awake & Alert” bulb emits a light frequency that enhances natural energy. We’ve got that by our desks for those brutal Monday mornings.

Both will be available for purchase in mid-October at definitydigital.com. At $69.99 a pop, the bulbs are pretty costly, but you can’t put a price on a good night’s sleep.

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