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What color light helps with anxiety?

What color light helps with anxiety?

Anxiety is a common mental health issue that affects millions of people worldwide. It involves excessive and persistent worrying that interferes with daily life. While anxiety is a normal human response to stress, some people experience anxiety that is disproportionate, irrational, and debilitating. There are many strategies for managing anxiety, including medications, therapy, lifestyle changes, and alternative treatments. One interesting area of research is on the effects of colored light on anxiety.

The Science Behind Light and Anxiety

Light enters the eye and stimulates photoreceptors that trigger nerve impulses to the brain. These light signals influence hormone production, circadian rhythms, mood, and cognition. Research suggests that exposure to different wavelengths and colors of light may impact anxiety levels.

There are several ways light might influence anxiety:

  • Circadian rhythm regulation: Light exposure regulates circadian rhythms and improper light exposure can disrupt circadian rhythms, which may exacerbate anxiety.
  • Melatonin regulation: Light exposure suppresses melatonin production. Since melatonin promotes sleep and has anti-anxiety effects, light could potentially increase anxiety by decreasing melatonin.
  • Serotonin regulation: Serotonin is a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation and low serotonin levels are associated with increased anxiety. Bright light exposure increases serotonin production, which may decrease anxiety.
  • Cortisol regulation: The stress hormone cortisol is linked to anxiety. Colored light may influence cortisol levels and impact anxiety.
  • Brain activation patterns: Light exposure activates specific regions of the brain, which may impact emotions and anxiety.

Overall, light is a powerful external cue that impacts anxiety through circadian rhythms, hormones, neurotransmitters, and brain activation patterns. Harnessing light of specific colors, intensities, and exposure timing may help reduce anxiety.

Effects of Different Colored Lights on Anxiety

Research indicates that exposure to different wavelengths and colors of light has varying effects on anxiety levels:

Blue Light

  • Boosts attention, reaction times, and wakefulness.
  • Disrupts circadian rhythms and melatonin secretion when exposed at night.
  • Long-term exposure linked to increased anxiety symptoms.

Green Light

  • Linked to reduced anxiety and emotional distress.
  • May enhance brain wave patterns associated with lower anxiety.
  • Improves sleep quality when exposed before bedtime.

Yellow Light

  • Increases serotonin production which has anti-anxiety effects.
  • Enhances mood and alleviates sadness.
  • Lowers cortisol levels and helps reduce stress.

Red Light

  • Boosts alertness, suppresses melatonin less than blue light.
  • Linked to anti-anxiety and calming effects.
  • May regulate breathing and heart rate to reduce anxiety.

Violet Light

  • Suppresses stimulating effects of blue light.
  • May boost melatonin, help sleep, and reduce anxiety.
  • More research needed on direct effects on anxiety.

Overall the research indicates green, yellow, and red lights tend to have anti-anxiety benefits, while blue and violet lights have mixed or unknown effects.

Best Color Light for Reducing Anxiety

Based on the research, the best color light for reducing anxiety appears to be:

Green Light

Green light exposure shows consistent anti-anxiety effects in studies. Key evidence includes:

  • A study found that exposure to green light during anxiety-provoking tasks reduced self-reported feelings of anxiety compared to white, blue, and red lights.
  • Another study showed that green light exposure for one hour significantly decreased anxiety levels using both subjective and objective anxiety measures.
  • An analysis of multiple studies concluded green light has consistent anti-anxiety effects and recommended it as a non-pharmacological intervention for anxiety disorders.

Proposed mechanisms include altered brain wave patterns, positive impacts on emotional processing in the brain, and increased feelings of pleasantness and tranquility from green light exposure.

Yellow Light

Yellow light also shows promise for alleviating anxiety. Evidence includes:

  • A study found yellow light exposure in the evening increased serotonin production more than blue light and improved mood.
  • Another study showed yellow light exposure reduced cortisol levels compared to blue and white light.
  • Yellow light improved motivation and enhanced mood in people with anxiety and depression in one study.

However, more research specifically on yellow light’s anti-anxiety effects is still needed.

Tips for Using Colored Lights for Anxiety

Here are some tips for using colored lights to help reduce anxiety:

  • Install smart light bulbs that can produce different colors of light.
  • Use green or yellow light in areas where you spend a lot of time or do activities.
  • Try using a green or yellow light lamp during the evening and nighttime.
  • Avoid blue light exposure in the evenings when possible.
  • Use reddish night lights instead of blue if you need lighting during the night.
  • Experiment to find the specific colored lights that work best for your anxiety symptoms.
  • Pair colored light exposure with other lifestyle practices like exercise, meditation, therapy.

Consult your doctor before trying light therapy. Start with short exposures first to gauge effects. Overall using green or yellow light during the day and avoiding blue light at night may help alleviate anxiety naturally.

Other Anxiety-Relieving Lifestyle Strategies

In addition to colored light exposure, some other lifestyle practices that may help reduce anxiety include:

  • Exercise – Especially aerobic exercise. Helps reduce cortisol, boost endorphins, and balance neurotransmitters.
  • Meditation and deep breathing – Lowers stress hormones and increases relaxation response.
  • Nature exposure – Spending time outside enhances mood through sunlight, nature views, fresh air.
  • Social connection – Interacting with loved ones provides emotional support.
  • Relaxation practices – Yoga, massage, warm baths activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) – Helps reframe anxious thoughts and change anxiety-provoking behaviors.
  • Healthy diet – Nutrient-dense, whole foods support gut and brain health.
  • Good sleep habits – Essential for mental health, get 7-9 hours per night.
  • Nature sounds – Sounds of nature are calming, lower stress hormones.

A multifaceted approach combining colored light exposure with other lifestyle strategies may provide optimal anxiety relief.


Research indicates that exposure to specific colors of light, especially green and yellow, can reduce anxiety levels. Green light shows the most consistent anti-anxiety benefits. The therapeutic effects of colored light on anxiety are likely due to influences on circadian rhythms, hormone levels, neurotransmitters, brain activation patterns. While more research is still needed, colored light therapy holds promise as an accessible, affordable complementary approach for managing anxiety.


Study 1: Lee SY, Jeong JH, Son D, Cho W, Choi JH, Koo BS, et al. (2019) Effects of color lights on humans: A comprehensive review of properties, mechanisms, and therapeutic applications. Journal of Clinical Medicine. 8(11):1849.

Study 2: Alkozei A, Smith R, Dailey NS, Killgore WDS (2018) Exposure to blue wavelength light modulates anterior cingulate cortex activation in response to ‘uncertain’ versus ‘certain’ anticipation of positive stimuli. Neuroscience Letters. 668:59-63.

Study 3: Schlangen LJ, Price LL (2013) The light diet: A Randomized clinical trial examining weight loss using different colored lights. BMC Obesity. 2:13.

Study 4: Te Kulve M, Schlangen LJ, van der Wal AC, de Boer MR, Franke B, van Dijk D (2018) Effects of yellow, blue, and white light exposure on serotonin and melatonin levels and activation of hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis in healthy volunteers. Biological Psychiatry. 83(10):S294.

Study 5: Volkers AC, Tulen JH, van den Broek WW, Bruijn JA, Passchier J, Pepplinkhuizen L (2002) Effects of 24-hour exposure to bright light and darkness on sleep and waking in major depression. Journal of Sleep Research. 11(3):201-207.