Unlike your average daytime bulb, the best light bulbs for reading at night are designed to reduce eye strain and impact on your body's natural circadian rhythm by limiting the output of blue light which can potentially disrupt sleep. (In other words, according to a study in Environmental Health Perspectives, certain wavelengths actually trick your brain into thinking it is daytime, which may make it harder for you to sleep right after exposure.) Like any other bulb, you'll want to make sure the fit, wattage, and brightness are compatible with your light fixtures and preferences — but for nighttime reading specifically, you'll also want to look for a lower color temperature.
With household lighting, color temperature is typically measured in kelvins. A higher number of kelvins (K) — about 6,500K or above — mimics clear, bright sunlight. The other end of the spectrum, at about 2,000K or less, is equivalent to the soft, soothing glow you'd get from a candle and has a lot less blue light than you'd get with a cooler light. As a result, when shopping for reading bulbs, you'll want a bulb on the lower end of the Kelvin scale to minimize eye strain and potential sleep impacts.
Scroll on for four light bulb options that all offer a warm glow but enough brightness (measured in lumens) to read with so you can fall asleep easily when you're ready. Think of it as step one in improving your sleep routine.
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1. The Best Sleep-Promoting Light Bulb
If you're looking for a bulb that limits blue-light output, but is still bright enough that you can go about your nighttime routine, the Restful Bedtime bulb is "totally worth it," according a reviewer. While a 60-watt incandescent produces about 432 melanopic lumens (a measure of sleep-disturbing blue light), this bulb was specially designed with sleep in mind to only produce 176. That said, one buyer wrote that, to the naked eye, it's "almost indistinguishable from 25W incandescent" while still offering all the benefits of a warmer bulb. It comes in a standard-size bulb and a candelabra model if you want a smaller base.
- Brightness: 450 lumens
- Color temperature: 2,200K
One reviewer wrote: "It's bright enough to read a book or like me, hang out on your phone, but also not so bright that I need to dim it to watch TV. And although the bulb looks pretty yellow, I find that it doesn't give everything in my room a yellow tinge. I don't know how they did that. [...] It actually does help me fall asleep! [...] I immediately bought 3 more for all my bedroom lamps."
2. The Best Value
These Miracle LED Relax bulbs are designed for bedtime-use because they provide 2,000 kelvins of warm, relaxing light — but they do so without breaking the bank. You get a pack of two for $16, and the E26 (standard) screw-in base fits most lamps and fixtures in your home, while the honey-color glow is mellow, relaxing, and welcoming. It's a little brighter than the first pick, but it's still a warm glow. It's also available in even larger packs.
- Brightness: 600 lumens
- Color temperature: 2,000K
One reviewer wrote: "I've been doing various things to alleviate evening blue light. [...] The color is nice—not too orange, and I CAN read by it. 2-pack is a more affordable price for this bulb for sure."
3. The Best Amber Light Bulb
With the lowest color temperature of all the options on this list, reviewers found the standard-size KINUR Easy Sleepy bulb to be great for sleep. (It is especially orange in its light output, but most reviewers say they find the amber color to be "comforting" and "soft.") While the tint is warm and the brightness is low, you shouldn't have any trouble seeing words on a page — which is why hundreds of reviewers have given it a 4.5-star overall rating.
- Brightness: 600 lumens
- Color temperature: 1,800K
One reviewer wrote: "I don't know how or why these work so well and I don't care. They don't make any noise and the light is soft and gentle. I am able to fall straight to sleep now after an hour of reading under these light bulbs. Remarkable."
4. The Best Smart Bulbs
Because they're Wi-Fi enabled and let you choose between 16 million colors using the smartphone app, these hub-free, standard-size AL Abovelights smart bulbs are ideal for bedside placement. Just set the color wheel to a warm white or a soothing amber and adjust the brightness to a lower level. That way, you can customize your lower-kelvin light before bed, but your lamps can also product brighter, more energizing light during the day. While you don't need a hub to run them, they are Alexa- and Google Home- compatible, so you can control them using just your voice, too.
- Brightness: adjustable
- Color temperature: adjustable
One reviewer wrote: "I switched from a 1200 lumen white lights to these bulbs and I have had way much more easier time transitioning into sleep. The app allows you to configure automatic light color change so you dont have to bother doing it manually."
Also Great: This Amber Reading Light
For a more portable alternative, the Hooga gooseneck book light clips onto your reading material and produces amber-colored illumination that's 99.94% free of blue-spectrum light. As a result, it's a great option for those on the go or people who don't want to disturb their partners. Since it's rechargeable and has three brightness levels (up to 70 lumens) to choose from, it's both convenient and customizable. Plus, it lasts for up to 30 hours on a single charge. It even works with Kindles for those who don't have a backlight — or for those who'd prefer not to use it right before bed.
- Color temperature: 1,600K
One reviewer wrote: "I’m so happy I bought this light! I read in the dark to fall asleep when my husband is already asleep. I used my Hooga light last night, after waking in the middle of the night, and it is so great! [...] I actually fell asleep within minutes."
Holzman DC. (2010). What's in a color? The unique human health effect of blue light. Environ Health Perspect., https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2831986/#