Since the beginning of humanity on this planet, we as humans have adjusted to the 24 hour cycle. The blue-white light of morning urges us awake in the morning and the warm orange and yellow tones of sunset signal a time for rest. This change of lighting throughout the day affects our circadian rhythms which help regulate sleep and wakefulness among many other things. Sadly, as electrical lighting came into the picture, the idea of creating light that helped keep our circadian rhythms on track didn’t exist.
Now, after nearly 20 years of research, studies show us light’s spectral content and its intensity impact the human circadian rhythm, which in turn affects productivity, focus, and sleep patterns. Bright, blue light is crucial during waking hours and is very useful in office workspaces, but can be detrimental to someone’s sleep cycle if they are exposed to it late at night or right before bed.
So how do LEDs play into human-centric lighting? According to Mariana Figueiro, acting director of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Lighting Research Center (LRC), in an interview with LED Magazine, “The LED allows us to be a little bit more precise than incandescent because you can tune the spectrum. You can change the spectrum over the course of the day. You can achieve these things with other light sources. But obviously with LEDs it’s easy because you can tune and change; you can pick what you want. So the flexibility of the LEDs is a must, there’s no question about it.”
Now we have the theory behind human-centric lighting and what technology, LEDs, will work best to make it a reality. But, does human-centric lighting work in office spaces?
Figueiro and the LRC have been funding an on-going, broad field test for the past three years. They have been working on US Government’s General Service Administration (GSA) to determine what effects the lighting has on workers in five separate buildings. The study focuses on what are the best ways to deliver HCL lighting to workers during the day. Some of their ideas include individual cubicle lighting, LED-lit tables, computer screens and more, not just LED overhead lighting.
LRC has taken it one step further and created a wearable device for workers called a daysimeter that measures the amount of light each individual person gets during the day and then customizes the color of light via smart LED bulbs and apps to keep in line with the person’s circadian rhythm.
No finalized findings have been published by the LRC yet, but they do have preliminary findings to their studies. It turns out people are being exposed to very little light during the day. They have also found in the early stages of this study how the amount of light one is subject to during the day affects one’s sleep, mood and productivity.
An issue with studying the effects of HCL on people in office settings is that it is hard to determine what is being changed due to light and what is being changed due to people’s habits. It is much easier to study the effects of HCL on hospital patients, as they are in a controlled environment with their vitals being tracked. Despite these challenges, LRC is pushing forward and continuing their study into improving performance in the workplace with HCL and LEDs!
Take the first step toward a better, more productive workspace by installing LEDs! Give us a call at (319) 563-2123 or send us an email!
Posted in Human Centric Lighting, LED Lighting for Businesses