You’ve heard the phrase before. “You’re not feeling well, get some rest.” The phrase is common enough you may have never stopped and asked yourself, “Why rest?” Whether or not your illness kept you up all hours of the night, there is a greater reason your body needs rest when under the weather. The majority of doctors will tell you the key to healing and feeling better is linked directly to deep and restful sleep. To achieve deep and restful sleep, you must be able to regulate your body’s circadian rhythms. The best way to regulate circadian rhythms? Light.
In an age when humans spent the majority of their time outdoors, regulating circadian rhythms was quite simple. When you’re subjected to the sky’s bright blue light, this helps your body naturally adjust. However, humans today spend the mass majority of their time indoors. This lack of white/blue light affects our body’s rhythms, leading to restless sleep.
When admitted to the hospital for an overnight or extended stay, a person receives even less natural light to help regulate the circadian cycle. This can become a vicious cycle. The lack of bright light leads to interrupted circadian rhythms that cause poor sleep patterns that then lead to a longer healing process which means more time in the hospital. Then the cycle begins again. Studies have also shown that hospital night-shift workers often suffer from poorly regulated circadian rhythms as well. Their lack of direct, bright light makes it difficult to keep a normal sleep pattern and lessens their focus and awareness on the job in comparison to the day shift workers.
The issue with fluorescent lighting in hospitals is they have a very limited spectrum of light. In order to regulate the body’s circadian rhythms, you must be subjected to consistent daylight or consistent artificial full-spectrum lighting. Providing full-spectrum lighting with LEDs in hospitals can help reduce healing time and keep the staff alert. Hospitals can take LED technology one step further and install auto-dimmers as well. These dimmers can be set to mimic the natural light cycle of the day, helping to further regulate circadian rhythms.
It seems like the next big wave in healthcare innovation isn’t a new miracle drug, but rather LED lighting! Something as small as proper lighting could mean less time in a hospital bed and more time soaking up natural full-spectrum light. The best part? It’s an easy fix!
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Posted in Human Centric Lighting, LED Hospital Lighting
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