Looking for the best colors for sleep? You want a light that will make you sleepy and promote relaxation and melatonin production.

I’ve done the hard work of testing and sorting through every light on the market to find the best ones for you!

In this short guide, we’ll go over precisely which colors you want to use, when you should use them, and which ones are best to buy for your home.

Which Colors Are Best for Sleep?

What we want in our sleep lighting is low amounts of blue and green light, and higher amounts of yellow, orange, and red.

This is because both blue and green light falls squarely within the melanopic bell curve.

the melanopic bell curve over the spectrum graph of a 2700k light source
An example of the melanopic sensitivity curve superimposed over a full spectrum 2700K light source.

Inside your eyes is a special cell called an ipRGC or intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cell. These cells detect the blue-green light seen above and tell the body that it’s daytime and to stop producing melatonin.

This can of course have drastic consequences on our sleep quality, such as insomnia.

So it’s very important that we choose lighting colors that are warm.

Yellow Light

Yellow light is usually anything between 2000-2200K and is reminiscent of the fading sun in the evening hours of the day. This color is very calming and slightly warmer than incandescent light.

yellow amber light bulb
image of yellow warm lighting as well as the spectrum from this light
What a warm 2200K light looks like, and the spectrum it puts out.

As you can see, there’s still a little bit of blue and green light being emitted from a warm yellow light.

Is Yellow Light Good For Sleep?

If you don’t have any health problems, sleep pretty well already, or just want “normal” looking light, a warm yellow color is a good choice.

While these lights contain some blue and green, our recommendations are dim enough that it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Pros

  • Great color rendering without being too high in melanopic light.
  • Less jarring than amber or red light for guests and social gatherings.

Cons

  • The blue light will mean melatonin suppression is still possible.
  • Not as relaxing or calming as amber or red light.
  • Not a great option for late-night use.

Amber or Orange Light

Amber light is usually anything between 1600-1700K and is a very relaxing warm orange light that gives off a hue similar to the light from a fire. Amber is a good all-around color for most people.

orange light
image of amber warm lighting as well as the spectrum from this light
What a warm 1600K light looks like, and the spectrum it puts out.

As you can see, amber light still emits some green light. It’s the lack of blue light that gives this color its warmer hue.

Is Amber Light Good For Sleep?

Amber light is the best all-rounder color for sleep and relaxation.

If you have sleeping problems, or trouble relaxing at night, but aren’t ready to pull the trigger on a pure red light, amber is the way to go!

Pros

  • Color rendering is still good due to the presence of some green light.
  • More relaxing and melatonin-friendly than yellow light.

Cons

  • Color rending isn’t as good as yellow light.
  • The remaining green light can still cause alertness in some.

Red Light

Red light is about 1000K and contains no blue or green light at all. Its color is quite unique and doesn’t activate the circadian system whatsoever.

red light bulb
image of red led lighting as well as the spectrum from this light
What a warm 1000K light looks like, and the spectrum it puts out.

As you can see, there’s some green light still being emitted from a warm yellow light. The lack of blue light gives this color its warmer hue.

Is Red Light Good For Sleep?

Red light is the best color for anyone with sleep disorders like insomnia since it doesn’t contain any melanopic light.

This is also the best light for the biohackers and health nuts out there looking to fully optimize their sleep quality.

Red light is also very useful if you have to get up and see in the middle of the night and want to retain your night vision afterward.

Pros

  • No melanopic light, excellent for melatonin production at night.
  • Useful for seeing when you wake up in the middle of the night.
  • Excellent for sleep disorders.

Cons

  • Terrible color rendering, colors will look red or black.
  • Can be off-putting for guests or roommates that aren’t on board.

The Best Lights for Sleeping

We’ve tested tons of light bulbs here at Optimize Your Biology, so the lights below are currently, to our knowledge, the best choices on the market for their respective categories.

Check out our Light Bulb Database to explore more on your own!

The Best Red Lights

We’ve reviewed all the best red LED lights on the market and we’ve come to the conclusion that Hooga makes the best flicker-free red LEDs.

Hooga 1W Red Light Bulb

1w red hooga bulb product photo

These are the dimmest red LED bulbs you can get, which we use in our bedroom and bathroom late at night. They give off a perfect, dim red glow.

  • 40 lumens
  • 1000K
  • 1w
  • A15
hooga sleep red 1w spectral power distribution graph
Spectral power distribution graph
hooga sleep red 1w flicker Graph
Flicker risk
hooga sleep red 1w waveform Graph
Waveform graph

Use coupon code OPTIMIZE12 for 12% off!

If you’re looking for a step up in power, for larger rooms I have recommendations in 3, 5, and 7w varieties.

Sunlite 3W

sunlite red bulb product photo
  • 1000K
  • 3w
  • A19
spectral power distribution graph of sunlite red 3w
Spectral power distribution graph
sunlite red 5w flicker risk graph
Flicker risk
sunlite red 5w waveform graph
Waveform

TCP 5W

tcp red bulb product photo
  • 1000K
  • 5w
  • A15
spectral power distribution graph of tcp red 5w bulb
Spectral power distribution graph
tcp red 5w flicker risk graph
Flicker risk
tcp red 5w waveform graph
Waveform

Hooga 7W Red Light Bulb

7w red hooga bulb product photo

The 7W is great for filling up larger rooms with a warm red glow at night.

  • 180 lumens
  • 1000K
  • 7w
  • A19
hooga sleep red 7w spectral power distribution graph
Spectral power distribution graph
hooga sleep red 7w flicker risk graph
Flicker risk
hooga sleep red 7w waveform Graph
Waveform graph

Use coupon code OPTIMIZE12 for 12% off!

The Best Amber Lights

We’ve selected three different options here at various wattage levels so you can find the right one for you. These are the best of the best!

Hooga 1W Amber Light Bulb

1w amber hooga bulb product photo

If you’re looking for a dim flicker-free amber light that’s melatonin-friendly but still has good color rendering, this is it!

  • 80 lumens
  • 1650K
  • 1w
  • A15
hooga amber sleep 1w spectral power distribution graph
Spectral power distribution graph
hooga amber sleep 1w flicker risk Graph
Flicker risk
hooga amber sleep 1w waveform Graph
Waveform graph

Use coupon code OPTIMIZE12 for 12% off!

Koze 3.5W Amber Light Bulb

koze sleep light product photo

This amber light from Koze has just a bit more lumens to it, making it a great option for reading and chores after dark.

  • 300 lumens
  • 1600K
  • 3.5w
  • A15
koze sleep spectral power distribution graph
Spectral power distribution graph
koze sleep flicker risk Graph
Flicker risk
koze sleep waveform Graph
Waveform graph
  • 10% off through the link!

Harth 7W Amber Light Bulb

harth sleep shift product photo

This is the amber bulb to buy if you need to light up a large room at night with melatonin-friendly light, but need to still make out which colors are which.

  • 600 lumens
  • 1600K
  • 7w
  • A19
harth sleep shift spectral power distribution graph
Spectral power distribution graph
harth night shift a19 flicker risk Graph
Flicker risk
harth night shift a19 waveform Graph
Waveform graph

The Best Yellow Lights

I really only have one favorite here, but who needs a lot to choose from anyways?

Bedtime Bulb 6W Light Bulb

bedtime bulb candelabra product photo

The highest blue light bulb on our list. This light bulb has an impressive 95+ CRI, great dimming, and relatively low blue light.

If you’re looking for a “normal” looking light, that’s still melatonin-friendly, this is as good as it gets!

  • 450 lumens
  • 2300K
  • 6w
  • A19
spectral power distribution graph of bedtime bulb a19
Spectral power distribution graph
bedtime bulb a19 flicker risk Graph
Flicker risk
bedtime bulb a19 waveform Graph
Waveform graph

The Best Adjustable Night Light

The Sunset Lights by TrueLight offer all of these colors in one handy light bulb!

These LEDs are controlled with a remote that can dim and adjust the color temperature from 3000K to 1000K:

truelight sunset bulb 3000k example
truelight sunset bulb 2000k example
truelight sunset bulb 1000k example

If you prefer to start off the night with a warmer white light and dim it to a red over time as you feel comfortable, this is the light that will allow you to do that.

The Sunsets come in both a standard A19 and BR30 style and this is what the spectrum looks like as you change the color temperature:

spectral power distribution graph of truelight luna sunset br30

As you can see you can select precisely how much blue and green light you’re exposed to as well as adjust the actual brightness output.

TrueLight Luna Red Sunset Bulbs

truelight luna bulb product photo

If you’re looking for a do-it-all light for winding down and relaxing at night this is the one!

Use coupon code OPTIMIZE10OFF for 10% off!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Yellow Light Make You Sleepy?

Yellow light does in fact help to make you sleepy.

Yellow lights are just white lights with much of the blue portion removed. What you’re left with is some green, yellow, orange, and red. And this creates a yellow-looking light.

Since blue light is the main signal to the brain that it’s daytime, removing it tells the brain that the day is ending. This helps to trigger a cascade of events where the brain begins to wind down, produce melatonin, and prepare for sleep.

What’s the Best Color Light to Sleep With?

If you absolutely must sleep with a light on it should be a dim red light. The thing is, red light can still excite the nervous system, even though it doesn’t directly impact the circadian clock or melatonin production.

In this study, researchers subjected 14 participants to 10 or 40 lux of the blue or red LED light.

It was noted that 40 lux of red light increased alertness via alpha brain waves and heart rate increased as well.

This may not be a concern for many, but if you have trouble sleeping, you’ll want to be careful to avoid things that can induce alertness at night, even red light!

Amber vs Red Night Light

Which is the best night light for sleeping? My recommendation would be to use red night lights if they’ll be used while sleeping.

Red will disturb your night vision for less when you get up in the middle of the night and need to see. And it has far less of an impact on your circadian system than amber light does.

When Should You Use a Sleep Light?

I recommend turning on your sleep lights about two to three hours before your bedtime.

So if you want to be asleep by 10, turn on your dim warm lighting at around 7 or 8. This will help you wind down and produce the melatonin you need for a good night’s sleep.

Conclusion

Grab yourself a few lights from the above recommendations, they’re the best out there! And start using them a couple of hours before bed, if you aren’t already doing this, I promise the improvement in the quality of your sleep and the following day will be worth it!

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2 Comments

  1. Very nicely written. But the color is only half of the story. The intensity/lumens of the light should be reduced greatly reduced around bedtime… In my experience this makes a world of a difference.

    I believe Dr. Jack Kruse has a graph somewhereof melatonin reduction from various types of light sources (fluorescent/LED’s being the worst, while candles, or candle-like OLED’s would be the best).

    1. I couldn’t agree more! You want very little to no blue/green in your pre-bed lighting, but even a purely red LED can excite the nervous system if it’s bright enough. That’s why we only use very low wattage red lights late at night.