In the past, lighting manufacturers designed luminaires solely to fulfill our visual needs. However, recent trends have discovered that light does not only serve for obtaining visuals but also has a considerable influence on bodily functions and our mood.
Strategically designed lighting can aid the circadian rhythm in humans. Research has shown that the timing, intensity, duration and wavelength of light can affect the human biological clock. The right amount of light, at the right time, can enhance night-time melatonin secretion, improve sleep quality, increase day-time vigilance and raise our resilience to stress.
The technology giant, Apple, have released a night feature on newer iPhone and iPad models whereby it filters out blue light from your screen. Night shift uses geolocation and sunset time data to reduce the blue light in its display in the evening. The result is a filtered, amber colour on your screen.
Adriam Williams, a professor of sleep medicine at Kings’ College and the London Sleep Centre says multiple studies have shown that the blue wavelengths on the white light spectrum can disrupt our sleep patterns, because we only expect to see light in this spectrum during the day.
When designing lighting schemes, it’s important to consider that cool white lighting is said to reduce sleepiness, and therefore is often used in office and educational environments.
Further research and findings have been established in recent years which consider the effect that different levels of light have on our mood and wellbeing.
A primary school in Norway is pioneering ground-breaking circadian lighting in an attempt to improve pupil’s performance and well being. In Norway, winter days are short and some argue that daylight alone cannot be used to help maintain human wellness. The school has installed luminaires with an adjustable colour temperature. The LED light sources can be tuned from cool white to warm white light. When the children arrive in in a morning, they are greeted by a cool white and intensive energy light for the first class. The cool white regulates the production of stress and sleep hormones in the children’s (and the teacher’s) bodies. When the pupils gather in the front of the classroom to listen to the teacher telling a story, a warm white creates a relaxing atmosphere.
Our understanding of lighting on bodily functions and our mood means that when designing lighting schemes, we need to think beyond visual needs and pure energy efficiency.
Posted by Rebecca Walton