Colour changing lightbulbs are the bit of tech I can't live without

When I’m stressed, it feels like the world is turned up to 11. 

Traffic rumbles outside the window like thunder, humid air sticks to my too-warm skin like cling film, and the screen I’ve been staring at for hours is so bright it ripples and laps at the edges like a pool of water.

When every sensation is a bit too much, I can’t think, let alone write – and as a writer, that’s far from ideal.

Unfortunately, I’m not a millionaire who lives in an air-conditioned bubble perfectly attuned to my picky senses — maybe one day.

But I’ve found making even a small investment has the power to stop stress in its tracks, or at least reduce it – a colour-changing lightbulb. 

I first heard about them through my job as a tech journalist. I remember being at a conference where loads of gadgets were on show.

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These events are always fun but incredibly overwhelming. 

I walked into a room and the lights were changing colour and cycling through the rainbow. I felt like I’d stepped into another dimension. From then on, I was hooked and knew I needed to recreate that feeling myself.

Dotting several of these smart bulbs around my home allows me to change the brightness and the colour in any room, at any time, with a few taps on my phone.

There’s all kinds of options – a big bowl for your dining table, outdoor lanterns that illuminate garden paths, and strip lighting to cast a glow behind your TV.

Mine are from the Phillips Hue range, but there are plenty of bulbs from other brands with similar features.

But I bought a simple set of colour-changing bulbs to fit into fixtures and lamps I already own.

Now I can open the app and switch any source on and off, choose how bright they are, pick the precise colours of each – there’s a wheel of 16million (yes, really!) shades to choose from – or select a preset.

Studies suggest specific colours or brightness levels can impact our emotions

Some have abstract names, like ‘Arctic Aurora’, and others are based on what they’re ideal for, like ‘Read’ or ‘Energise’.

I’ve discovered that changing the glow in my home can genuinely nudge me into feeling more productive, focused, energised, calm, sleepy, happy or excited, depending on the right combination of brightness and colour. 

For example, I’ll pick a cool, brightness for my desk lamp first thing in the morning and will feel awake and ready to write. 

I’ll then select a warm, peachy shade when my eyes are strained in the late afternoon and instantly feel more relaxed. 

As night draws in, I prefer a warm, soothing orange, which I now associate with winding down and falling asleep.

And it isn’t just for my well being, it enhances my experiences with entertainment too. 

I also match the colours to what’s on the TV. That way, I feel transported to the fictional and fantastical worlds on screen — think of me as a smart light sommelier. 

I chose bright green to accompany the action-horror movie Prey – the colour of the forest and the Predator’s blood. 

When I re-watched Dune, I selected rich orange and dusty yellow shades, a good fit for the sandy surface of Arrakis. And I love a deep red when I watch Star Trek to mirror the ship’s ‘red alert’ status and make me feel like a full-fledged crew member.

I’m not alone in my love. The influence colour have on productivity levels and general well-being has long been of interest to researchers. 

Studies suggest specific colours or brightness levels can impact our emotions. 

Others conclude warm tones can make you literally ‘feel’ warmer.

When it comes to sleep, we know that getting the right kind can positively impact sleep quality, health, and mood.

After trying many sleep apps, trackers and even some supplements, like magnesium and melatonin over the years, I find it funny that these days a cosy orange hue and a book are the fastest route to a night of good sleep. 

I’ve made peace with the fact I can’t take my smart bulbs everywhere with me — at least not easily. 

When I’m away from home, it’s difficult to focus and write without a cool, bright beam at my side — especially when visiting family in the North where there’s more cloud cover. 

I’m not as relaxed at night without my fireside-emulating orange. And I swear no matter how good a movie is, it just isn’t as enjoyable a watch if your lights don’t match the on-screen action.

I don’t mind admitting there’s a less scientific reason I like smart bulbs; they’re fun. 

I’ve loved playing with colour since I was old enough to hold chunky crayons in my hands and press my fingertips into paint pots.

Feeding off the energising, electrical power of deep blues. The warming, relaxing calm of bright pinks and warm violets. 

Now I’m in my 30s, and I can only just about justify occasionally spending an afternoon throwing around paints and scribbling with crayons. 

But my colour-changing smart bulbs inject a much-needed dose of play into my otherwise work-filled adult day.

They truly do it all. 

It’s not an exaggeration to say they make me feel more content, present and alive.

The Tech I Can’t Live Without

Welcome to The Tech I Can’t Live Without,’s new weekly series where readers share the bit of kit that has proved indispensable for them.

From gadgets to software, apps to websites,  you’ll read about all manner of innovations that people truly rely on.If you have a bit of tech you can’t live without, email [email protected] to take part in the series

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