Blue lighting induces relaxation, say Spanish researchers

GRANADA, SPAIN (MARCH 6, 2018) (REUTERS) – Spanish researchers have developed a technique to treat acute psychosocial stress quickly, using blue light.

Acute psychosocial stress is short-term intense stress that occurs during social or interpersonal relationships caused by, for instance, a verbal argument. Typically it can take sufferers more than 30 minutes to recover from such episodes.

Children with behavioural difficulties may suffer frequent instances of such stress, leading to regular exclusions from the classroom.

Researchers from the University of Granada (UGR) and the School for Special Education San Rafael, at Granada’s Order of Saint John of God Hospital, say volunteers fully recovered in little more than a minute by sitting in a dark room with a panel of blue light-emitting diode (LED) lights.

The researchers tested 12 healthy volunteers aged 18-37, first subjecting them to stress by giving them impossible mental tasks to complete, before leading into a chromotherapy room. They then sat on a beanbag with no other stimulation while wearing an electroencephalography (EEG) cap.

Half the test subjects were tested with white LED lights for 10 minutes which then turned blue for another 10 minutes. For the second group the colour changes were reversed.

During the exercise the volunteers’ bio-signals, such as heart and brain activity, were monitored using an electrocardiogram and electroencephalogram. Those who received the blue light reached a relaxed state in an average of 1.1 minutes, compared to the white group’s 3.5 minutes.

Professor Miguel Ángel López Gordo told Reuters: “When children have an outbreak of stress it can take half hour until they relax but with the blue light they feel much better within a minute or so. They can therefore rejoin their classes much faster and not have to miss so much class time.”

López Gordo said it could also be used at the beginning and end of people’s working day.

“For instance someone gets to work on Monday morning stressed after a traffic jam. They could enter a room like this and for a minute be exposed to the blue light that will have a beneficial effect on their stress. They could also relax the same way when they return home, after leaving the car in the garage and before entering the living room.”

According to UGR psychologist Dr. María José Sánchez Carrión: “We believe this opens the door for therapeutic intervention in those who have mental health problems. In fact the rest of us could use this treatment. Through this blue colour we’ve proven that we can generate an effect of physiological relaxation and are therefore improving people’s quality of life.”

The research was published in the PlosOne journal.

Associated Links

  • Psychology
  • Neuroscience
  • Nervous system
  • Psychosocial
  • Social work
  • Biology
  • Stress
  • Social stress
  • Psychological stress
  • Occupational therapy in the management of seasonal affective disorder

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