In this space, have three lighting sources when possible, such as natural light, overhead lighting and a task light, says Dr. Andrea P. Thau, president of the American Optometric Association.
One source of light could be sunlight coming through a window. Next, you should have a ceiling light or lamp that fills the whole room with light. Third, add a task light, such as a small lamp or reading light that focuses directly on your activity.
This third light is ideally located to the side of your head or behind you, Thau says. A light overhead or in front of the person reading can reflect off the reading material — whether paper or electronic device — and into the reader’s eyes. Putting the light to the side or behind improves visual performance and comfort, she says.
Style-wise, look for a lamp with a slim profile, says Lynne Stewart, lighting specialist at House of Lights. That way you’ll avoid having a large lampshade near your head while you’re reading.
If you are an avid reader and willing to install a permanent light fixture, a mounted light is the way to go, Stewart says. These types of lights may be mounted on the wall or attached to the side of the headboard. They also can be wired into the wall with a switch near the bed or plugged into a nearby outlet. No matter which option her clients pick, Stewart likes to make sure they can reach the switch without having to get out of bed.
If you need more light on the desk surface for reading a book or writing, Stewart recommends a small lamp that doesn’t shine on the computer screen.