Full spectrum light usually refers to an indoor lamp or lighting system that provides the same kind of light we get from the sun. The effects of sunlight have been proven to be a necessary part of maintaining some aspects of mental and even physical health. In areas that have harsh or dark winters, it is common for people to suffer from a transient disorder related to a lack of sunlight called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. For this reason, the sale of full spectrum lights that mimic the effects of sunlight has become a popular industry…
If you don’t know much about light, it can be easy to get lost in all this information. Visible light, the commonplace occurrence we take completely for granted, is just a small portion of a greater spectrum of electromagnetic energy. All electromagnetic energy is the same physical phenomenon, but has different properties depending on the length of its waves. The shortest waves make up a kind of radiation we call Gamma Rays, and the longest waves are referred to as radio waves. A genuinely fully spectrum light would emit radiation with wavelengths of the entire spectrum.
Since some of the wavelengths have serious adverse health effects on people, this would be a bad thing. Fortunately, full spectrum lights don’t actually emit the full spectrum, but rather mimic what the sun emits. So clearly the name full spectrum light is used with some flexibility.
Unfortunately, this flexibility has led to a number of scams. Because ‘full spectrum light’ could be interpreted as a light that emits radiation from the entire visible spectrum, which most lights do, anyone can sell some regular light bulbs and call them ‘full spectrum lights’. You could sell a stack of candles and call them ‘full spectrum lights’ because, in a sense, they are. However, candles and normal incandescent lights do not emit a spectrum of light similar to the sun, and will not help alleviate or prevent symptoms of SAD.
If you’re confused or lost with all this information, don’t worry, so am I. If you are living in a dark area and are worried about SAD, just keep in mind that some products may say ‘full spectrum light’ on it, but that doesn’t mean they are what you want. With a little research, you should be able to weed out the scams and find a full spectrum light that refers to sunlight and not just regular visible light.