woman under a neon light holding her chest

Should you have sex with the lights on or off?

Like all things in the bedroom, lighting comes down to personal preference. However, if you haven’t tried sex with the lights on (or off), this is your sign to mix it up.

It’s time to see things in a different light, and we’re here to explain why. From dark romps to well-lit smooches, we’re looking at the pros and cons of each, whether lighting affects sex and other ways to set the mood.

Scroll down to find out more.

How does lighting affect sex?

Lighting is one of those things that we don’t think about, but it affects our mood, behavioural states, and many other aspects of our lives. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that lighting can affect our sex lives.

For example, some find that a well-lit room is sexier, as they can see their partner. In contrast, others find light during sex to be too invasive, especially if they have low self-esteem.

Likewise, some couples enjoy the intimate feeling of intercourse in the dark, while others don’t like the lack of visual stimulation.

Why you should experiment with bedroom lighting

Ultimately, the choice is up to you. But playing with the lighting and switching it up now and then can help you discover new turn-ons and increase your overall satisfaction.

After years of having sex in the dark, you might discover that you enjoy seeing your partner looking at your body. Or perhaps you might realise that being unable to see makes everything feel more intense.

Changing up your sexual routine is always advised, as this helps you avoid getting into a sexual rut. Alongside playing with the lighting, you may also want to try new sex positions, include toys, or even indulge in kinky play. It’s all up to you. But remember, never proceed without consent from your partner!

a photo of hand under the duvet holding a vibrator

Benefits and drawbacks of having the lights on

Unsure if you’re ready to see things in a new light? Take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of having sex with the lights on below:

Benefits of sex with the lights on

  • Heightened arousal from visual stimulation
  • Boost in confidence watching your partner get turned on by your body
  • Chance to watch the intercourse
  • Less chance of accidents (i.e. you can see what you’re doing)
  • The opportunity to watch your partner’s body

Drawbacks of sex with the lights on

  • Some people aren’t comfortable with others seeing their body
  • Some liken lights-on sex to porn and say it feels less intimate

Pros and cons of having the lights off

Ready to switch the lights off? Read these pros and cons before you flick the switch:

Pros of sex with the lights off

  • Provides an intimate atmosphere
  • Creates a sense of the unknown/suspense
  • Can give confidence to those with body image issues
  • Some find their other senses are heightened when they can’t see as much

Cons of sex with the lights off

  • Many people prefer visual stimulation during sex
  • Sex with the lights off feels outdated to some
  • This may leave some people thinking their partner doesn’t want to see their body

Which is more popular? Lights on vs off in the bedroom

Before we reveal the results, what do you think is most popular? And what’s your opinion? Do you enjoy the mystery of a dark bedroom, or do you want to see your partner in their birthday suit?

According to a 2018 study of 8,500+ respondents, an overwhelming majority of 58% don’t care whether the lights are on or off. 15% prefer the lights on, 12% prefer the lights off, and another 15% just can’t decide.

So, if this study teaches you anything, you don’t need to worry about impressing partners with groovy lighting or a dark room.

Sex, lights, and social taboos

Today, it’s normal to have sex in well-lit rooms. But it wasn’t always this way.

If we travel back in time, older generations always associated having sex with being in the dark. Thanks to societal taboos and religious beliefs, sex wasn’t discussed as often, and most couples enjoyed a romp after marriage in a dark bedroom.

There’s nothing wrong with preferring having sex in the dark. However, suppose your preference for a dim room stems from a lack of self-confidence or unhealthy sexual beliefs. In that case, you might want to work with a professional sex therapist or counsellor to dismantle these thought patterns. Sex should be all about pleasure, confidence, and connections. Not feeling guilty or ashamed.

couple having sex with the light off

Other ways to set the mood with lighting

If you’ve tried sex with the lights on and off, you might be looking for a new way to spice things up. Here are other ways to use lighting to play with the mood.

Try multi-colour lights

Forget plain white light. It’s time to experiment with colours! Multi-colour lighting changes the look of the room (and your partner) and can even affect your mood. Here’s how:

  • Red light – Boosts energy, passion, and evokes strong emotions
  • Blue light – Calms anxiety, brings peace and reduces tension
  • Yellow light – Associated with happiness and creativity
  • Purple light – Symbolises luxury and ambition
  • Green light – Provokes feelings of health, vitality, and comfort

So, grab some multi-colour LEDs and see which makes you feel your best.

Use the best of both worlds

Can’t decide between bright lights and the dark? Embrace both with dimmed mood lighting. This allows you to have enough light to see your partner, but not so much that it feels invasive.

This is an excellent idea if you’re not 100% comfortable with bright light but want to test your boundaries. Bedside table lamps are the best way to experiment here.

Consider alternative lights

If you want to try something totally different, forget lamps and room lights. Switch over to fairy lights, LED strips, and lava lamps. These non-traditional light sources will give your room a unique atmosphere, allowing you to explore your creative side. Perfect for exploring kinks, new positions, and fetishes.

The takeaway

Experimenting with sex and lighting is a great way to mix up your routine and discover new turn-ons. It’s also a good way to face your internal taboos, mainly if you’re not used to sex with the lights on. Now go forth and enjoy.

Explore more sex and relationship content on our blog.

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