How lighting can affect health

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How lighting can affect health

Health and wellbeing are two of the most important factors influencing a business, for both its employees and customers. With more and more research unfolding we are beginning to gain a greater understanding of the effects human developments can have on our own health.

Healthy buildings

‘We spend 90% of our time indoors and the quality of our indoor environment has a direct and indirect impact on our health, well-being, and productivity.

The visual impact of lighting can be felt directly, i.e. we can see sufficiently to carry out our task and for orientation. The impact on our body and emotions from lighting is felt more indirectly but has meanwhile been proven in many studies. With good quality lighting employees perform better and students score higher, in addition to improving sleep, mood and behaviour.

The circadian cycle

‘The circadian cycle is the daily human biological clock that synchronizes with daylight. Human beings and their bodily functions have cyclic rhythms. Circadian rhythm has an influence on a variety of biological functions, such as body temperature, pulse rate, blood pressure, tuning the body work or rest, the release of hormones, immune function.’

High levels of cortisol hormones lead to alertness. Cortisol levels are high in the morning, decreasing at midnight. Melatonin is the sleep hormone which counteracts cortisol. Sunlight, cortisol and circadian cycles are all interlinked. This has been acknowledged within the digital technology industry, with phones which typically emit 4000-600k of light now including warm settings for evenings which ensure that you feel less alert before bed, thus making it easier to fall asleep at night.

Biodynamic lighting

Biodynamic lighting is characterised by the change of lighting properties with regards to light direction, colour temperature and level, in order to positively affect vitality and relaxation, mood, visual acuity and productivity.

According to research, vitamin D is important for healthy brain function, with insufficient levels playing a role in depression and other mental health problems. In many countries in the Northern hemisphere where day light is lacking for 6 months of the year students are sat in front of LED lights to support their regular circadian rhythm.

lighting in classroom

Light Therapy and seasonal depression

In the Nordic countries, from 3% to 6% of individuals, and even up to 10%, according to some sources, suffer from SAD (seasonal affect disorder). They then have symptoms such as depressed mood, chronic fatigue, decreased libido, an exaggerated need for sleep, difficulty awakenings, binge eating, or abnormally large appetite, especially for sugar and carbohydrates (bread, pasta, potatoes).

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