In a perfect world, wellness and convenience would coexist in perfect harmony. Fast food wouldn’t contribute to obesity and ab-toning belts would zap your belly into a six pack while you lounged on the couch. Historically, marriages between ease and wellness have been elusive, especially when variables like Daylight Savings try to disrupt your body’s routine. But practical products like the new C by GE LED bulbs are making it easier than ever to stay healthy — even in the face of lost sleep and dark mornings.
The Sleep-Body Connection
The relationship between lightbulbs and the body starts with the role light plays in how we sleep. You don’t need researchers to tell you that sleep is important — we all know how hard it is to get out of bed in the morning and how lovely it is to sleep in on a Saturday. If you’ve experienced jet lag-induced existentialism or all-nighter delirium, you know that extreme sleep deprivation makes your body feel extremely awful. These personal experiences may be all the proof you need, but there’s also plenty of research backing up the power of sleep.
Our bodies function around circadian rhythms: cyclical changes in response to shifts in light and darkness over 24 hours. Researchers studying circadian rhythms, including “sleep-wake cycles,” have found that the consequences of disrupting these rhythms extend far beyond bleary-eyed exhaustion. The connection between chronic sleep disorders and an expanding list of long-term health problems — heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and obesity to name a few — has become more apparent and alarming as sleep problems become more common.
So what’s getting in the way of our naturally occurring circadian rhythms? Light — specifically blue light produced by electricity and personal electronic screens. Exposure to this type of light, especially towards the end of the day, suppresses the production of melatonin, the “sleep hormone” that helps regulate the natural cycle of sleeping and waking. Messing with melatonin can throw your natural rhythm out of whack.
Finding the Rhythm
Our current understanding of the relationship between light and sleep has spurred innovations to help combat sleep disruptions (and make life a little cooler in the process). Using the latest research, GE created the C by GE family of LED bulbs. Specifically, their C Sleep bulb is programmed to shift between three color temperatures throughout the day. The bright blue setting, with its strong suppressing effects on melatonin levels, is ideal in the morning. Around midday, the bulbs shift to a regular soft white tone that most people are accustomed to. In the evening, the bulbs adjust to a softer amber color that doesn’t suppress the body’s natural production of the sleep hormone. The Sleep bulb cycle is designed to support natural melatonin production and help the body maintain its sleep-wake rhythm.
These bulbs can make your life a lot easier once they’re linked to a smartphone. For starters, there’s no complicated hub to deal with. The bulbs connect to the C by GE app on your phone via Bluetooth, making them ideal for anyone looking for smart home technology with training wheels. The app lets you experiment with an array of lighting temperatures to try out different recipes, schedules, and groups. When you’ve found “the one,” program the bulbs to follow your ideal lighting cycle. Or just keep playing with different color temperatures based on moods, activities, and rooms. Pro Tip: The bedroom is a great place to experiment with mood lighting.
These bulbs can improve and simplify more than just your sleep. Getting home late at night? Use the app to activate specific C by GE LED bulbs from the driveway to avoid fumbling in the dark. If you’re inviting a date over to impress them with your signature dish, use bright lighting for prep work then dim things down to a more flattering level once they arrive. If you want to get creative with home protection, scare off anyone foolish enough to break into your house with an impromptu light show. Pro Tip: Surprise light shows can also be used to prank loved ones.
We can only hope that products like C by GE LED bulbs will lead to further unions between comfort and convenience. Who knows, maybe someone will finally find a way to make flossing less awful. Or we could just focus on all the ways we can use these bulbs to prank our roommates.
Lily Butler is a Senior Editor at StudioAtGawker. She tweets here.