Lighting and Wellbeing
Lighting is usually associated with decoration, making a place look good or providing a feature. It can be used to highlight something important or it can simply help you to see what you are doing. However, there is a lot more to lighting than meets the eye.
Over the years, with the introduction of artificial light, we have slowly become used to spending more and more time indoors with artificial light replacing natural light. 200 years ago, 75% of the population worked outdoors whereas now, less than 10% work in natural light outdoors.
But the question is; does artificial light give us the same benefits as artificial light would?
The main difference between an artificial light source and natural light is how it effects the dynamic day and night cycle, known as our circadian rhythm, which we get from the way the sun moves into different positions throughout the day. Circadian means ‘about a day’, Our circadian rhythm is ‘set’ by natural light and put simply, lets our bodies know what time of day it is. Using this information, it controls our bodies production of several hormones including Melatonin which makes us go to sleep and wake up. So, without the natural light to keep our circadian rhythm in sync, we would struggle to keep a constant sleep pattern. Not only this, a disrupted circadian rhythm can also lead to more serious disorders such as
– Seasonal affected disorder (S.A.D) – 7% of the population suffer from SAD
– Depression- with one in ten suffering from this disorder.
– Sleeping disorders
– Poor health and diet
Shocking statistics have also shown a link between certain cancers such as breast cancer and prostate cancer to those who work shifts. Nowadays, 1 in 3 people work shifts outside of the traditional 9-5 hours and these workers’ lack of natural daylight could potentially be a contributing factor to their cancer.
With these harsh statistics, it is imperative that we improve the light around us, at our workplaces, in our homes and public places. The lighting within a space can affect our mood and how comfortable we feel within a space. Several research studies have been carried out, looking into this area to help come up with specialist lighting systems that are made to be compatible with our circadian rhythm.
Doctors at Harvard University found that colours of light can affect us in different ways depending on the time of day. For example, blue wavelengths, “are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood” however, they “seem to be the most disruptive at night” This tells us that our body requires different light colours at different times for the healthiest outcome. The blue light was also shown to suppress melatonin for about twice as long as a green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much. This shows how much light colour can have an impact on our bodies and therefore our health, wellbeing and daily lives.
Using this research, scientists and designers have been working towards coming up with the perfect light source for interior space. The problem with our existing artificial light sources is that they are usually fixed in spectral output, while the proportion of wavelengths and therefore colour temperature of the light we receive from the sun changes throughout the day, as well as it’s more gradual change throughout the year with the different seasons. Despite this problem, there are now some lighting products that can create a light which is similar to that of the sun. These lights known as colour changeable LED’s can alter their light colour all the way from 2700k to 6500k. The benefit of these lights is that it gives us a more natural light designed for healthy living. Being ‘colour tuneable’ you are able to alter the colour temperature of the light to suit what is needed and being LED, it also has a great energy efficiency and lifetime.
This ‘Circadian Solution’ Lighting has been tried and tested to prove that they promote healthier living. Standard lighting in areas such as schools and medical centres were replaced by their fitting to test the outcome. Results showed that productivity and concentration levels rose whilst working within a room using the colour tuneable LED lighting.
If you are interested in how lighting can improve your mood or to enhance your wellbeing in any commercial or residential setting, please call our experts at Asco Lights on 0161 207 0212