How Light Impacts Psychology & Mood in Education

Nov 15, 2021

Scientific studies from recent years have shown that lighting can significantly affect how well students perform in the classroom. For example, if lighting is too dim, or if it flickers overhead, students may have trouble focusing and retaining information. Poor lighting can also affect the health and well-being of teachers and faculty. School staff members may feel tired, sluggish, or unmotivated to teach, which negatively impacts students’ performance levels. 

How can schools prevent these adverse learning conditions? The best solution is to replace old, outdated lights with full-spectrum LED fixtures that simulate natural daylight. Research has demonstrated many benefits of natural light in the classroom, including more effective learning, and less distraction or disinterest.     

How Light Impacts Psychology & Mood in Education

It’s no surprise that students perform better academically in classroom settings that have comfortable, high-quality lighting. Even though we may not notice it, lighting quality affects the way all human beings feel. Lighting that’s too soft or too dim makes us feel drowsy. While bright, bluish light from sunlight or LED lighting keeps us alert and awake. 

Unfortunately, some classrooms may not have a source of direct sunlight. In cases like this, upgrading to a lighting system that mimics bright, natural daylight is essential for the mental health and overall mood of students and teachers. Irritability, depression, and lack of interest are just a few of the negative side effects that impact students in classrooms with improper lighting.      

Issues with Low Quality Fluorescent Lighting

For decades, the nation’s schools have relied on fluorescent lights as the primary type of lighting for classrooms, libraries, auditoriums and other rooms within educational facilities. Fluorescent lights were an efficient and affordable option for many years, but classroom lighting research revealed how their poor quality contributed to an overall decline in student performance. Outdated fluorescent bulbs commonly flicker and become dim, which is thought to cause eye strain, headaches, and discomfort for both students and faculty. 

Light Impact in Education

When fluorescent lights started to gain a negative reputation, school systems began recognizing the positive benefits of LED lighting systems. LEDs produce brighter, full-spectrum illumination that can closely mimic natural sunlight. This type of light creates a more comfortable environment for learning. Students are more attentive and simply perform better. Teachers feel more alert and confident while teaching.

Even though an LED system may cost more than fluorescent lighting, the initial investment eventually pays off. Lower energy bills, longer lifespans, and reduced maintenance fees help school systems save money down the road. More importantly, if LED lighting can improve student performance and behavior, that alone is worth every penny spent.      

Focus & Alertness

It’s been proven that effective lighting contributes to the brain’s ability to focus and stay alert. Dimly lit rooms reduce the brain’s cognitive function of effectively processing and remembering data. Brightly lit environments help students stay alert, which allows them to retain and understand greater amounts of information.


Unlike older fluorescent bulbs, new LED lights do not contain harmful contaminants or carcinogens. Older bulbs can be a health risk if any of these dangerous substances are exposed and released into the environment. In regards to health, the high-quality light that LEDs emit is beneficial for the vision and mental well-being of students and staff. 

Performance & Participation

The impact that lighting has on students’ moods is significant. Consequently, mood impacts overall performance and willingness to participate. Different light levels can influence students’ behavior in unique ways. By strategically optimizing LED lighting in classrooms, schools can actually improve the academic performance and behavior of students. 

Lighting Alternatives

Because no two classrooms are alike, the proper lighting requirements for one room might be different for another. Depending on the amount of natural sunlight in the room, and the general needs of the students, a lighting design that works in an open, skylit library might not work in an enclosed, somewhat dark science lab. For this reason, a variety of alternative lighting options work very well when used in combination with overhead LED lights.

Dimmable Lighting
Whether students are watching a movie or working together in groups, dimmable LEDs let the lighting fit their needs.

Soft Mood Lighting
The soft glow of string lights makes classroom learning more fun when the overhead lights are on, and creates a peaceful atmosphere for quieter times when the lights are off.

Other Types of Lighting
Classroom lighting doesn’t have to solely rely on overhead lights. Accent lamps contribute to the ambient light within the room, while making the space feel more comfortable and homey.

TCP Lighting in Education

Are you ready to upgrade your school with energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly LED lighting? Whether you’re a contractor, designer, or school facilities manager, our team of lighting experts can assist you with product selection, lighting layouts, and even retrofitting.  

The students and staff at your school deserve top-quality lighting. With over 20 years of experience in the lighting industry, TCP has designed exceptional lighting plans for a wide range of educational facilities. Contact us today for a consultation. Want more details? Visit tcpi.com/education-lighting.

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