If you’re like me, you probably don’t spend too much time pondering the relationship between light bulbs and sleep quality — after all, those suckers, nightlights excluded, are most likely taking a breather while you catch some precious zzz’s.
The type and quantity of artificial light that we're exposed to during the waking hours, particularly in the hours immediately before we retire for the night, actually play a significant hand in what happens to our brains after the lights go out. You see, during the day, our brains can't get enough of light sources that rely heavily on the blue color wavelength such as energy-efficient bulbs and electronic screens (laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.) Think of it as light-based brain candy — those cool blues keep us alert, awake, on-the-move.
But at night, when our bodies are naturally winding down, the blues are best to be avoided as they can disrupt natural sleep patterns and overall health. This is why it’s best, as difficult as it may be, to shut down that laptop or tablet at least two hours before you hit the hay. Because even if you don’t really notice the subtle differences between the types of light that you’re exposed to in the evening hours, your melatonin-producing pineal gland will. And the more brain-stimulating blue that you’re exposed to before bed, the less of that magical sleep-regulating hormone your body will produce.
Enter Drift, a bedside table-friendly 40-watt equivalent LED bulb from Utah-based startup Saffron that not only minimizes the slumber-disrupting blue hues cast by many of its energy-saving contemporaries but is also capable of, with the simple flick of a switch, mimicking the setting sun — in Midnight Mode, an auto-dimming function gradually dims the bulb from light to dark over the course of 37 minutes, the average amount of time it takes for the sun to completely set.
Alternately, you can opt for the whole setting sun scenario but with a different finish: Instead of leaving you in complete darkness at the end of the dimming cycle, the bulb, when in Moonlight Mode, emits a faint, moonlight-esque glow throughout the night much like a traditional nightlight.
In addition to not interfering with the natural melatonin production, the whole process is geared to lull you into a healthy, restful, and consistent slumber.
And of course, you can sleep easy knowing that the Drift, described as emitting a “warm, relaxing light” that’s “indistinguishable from incandescent bulbs” is helping you save on energy bills: this dreamy 7-watter (530 lumens) with a built-in microprocessor boasts a lifespan of 30,000 hours and is compatible with most screw sockets, no special wiring or set-up required.
With a launch price of $29, the Drift will cost you a bit more than high-quality LEDs from the likes of Cree and Philips. But if you’ve been feeling run-down due to cruddy sleep, a Drift bulb or two in the boudoir could prove itself to be a mighty sound investment. And besides, a lamp outfitted with a snazzy, sunset-simulating LED is a heck of a lot sexier than a pair of these.