Can human-centric-lighting really make you healthier?

The concept of Human-Centric Lighting (HCL) has been bandied around by leading industry figures in the lighting sector recently, with the positive impact lighting can have on the visual, emotional and biological needs of humans a growing topic of conversation. But just how close is the connection between natural light and health, well-being, and productivity?

 HCL, or Circadian Lighting, is lighting that “supports the health, wellbeing and performance of humans by combining visual, biological and emotional benefits of light”[1].

This is often achieved by calibrating lights at varying frequencies, spectral powers, and adjusting Correlated Colour Temperature (CCT) and intensities in order to suit different tasks being completed, times of the day or even the environment in which the lighting is installed.

The goal is to deliver lighting that supports the natural circadian rhythm[2] of a person, delivering benefits to human physiology and psychology.

How does HCL work?

The correlation between natural light and health, wellbeing and productivity is widely recognised. HCL works by mimicking natural daylight as closely as possible to match the ideal circadian cycles, otherwise known as the sleep/wake cycle.

By adjusting automatically to maintain that alikeness through different parts of the day, HCL can regulate a person’s daily rhythm and improve their motivation, well-being, and productivity. It can also stimulate us, influences our moods and activity levels, enhance concentration, prevent sleeping disorders and improve overall well-being.

Studies have revealed that exposure to higher levels of illuminance can result in increased alertness and better performance.[3] However, whilst the level of light is important, perhaps more crucial is the light’s colour temperature, or CCT. But how can the CCT of LED lighting influence such factors and elicit positive responses from people exposed to it?

The human impact of CCT

Our mood can be influenced by light colour temperature – warm, soft, dim lighting can help spur creativity, while brighter lights can help moods and the ability to focus.

By effectively replicating natural light, and increasing illumination as the day begins, lighting can stimulate the production of the “stress hormone” cortisol to rouse wakefulness. Whilst, dimming the levels of illumination and altering colour temperature at the end of the day can encourage the secretion of melatonin, the hormone that helps promote sleep.

It is a theory that has been put into practice in many sectors. Researchers at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences, for instance, found that university employees exposed to warm lighting were able to solve challenges more creatively[4].

Whilst, finely tuning lighting from warm white, to cool white, to simulate daylight conditions, enables the circadian rhythms of hospital patients to be regulated, helping to balance cortisol and melatonin levels to improve emotional wellbeing and encouraging rehabilitative sleep.

A common misconception

One common misconception when it comes to HCL is that lighting solutions with adjustable CCT alone will be enough to deliver wider health and wellbeing benefits associated with Circadian Lighting.

Although lighting that emits cool-blue temperatures of between 5000K and 6000K can stimulate in the morning, and warmer temperatures in the region of 2700K can deliver amber colours to encourage relaxation, to elicit the desired biological responses, light sources must carefully balance finely-tuned CCTs and Spectral Power Distribution (SPD).

The virtues of specifying the SPD – otherwise known as spectroradiometry – mean the illumination emanating from a light source containing a series of LEDs is more balanced and the precise colour output is more consistent.

A bright choice

Leading-edge human centric lighting from Contrac Lighting has been developed to deliver high-quality, natural light that is efficient and long lasting. Our focus is to create appropriate lighting conditions for the visual tasks being performed, while meeting individual needs and at the same time ensuring the most cost efficient long-term solution for the client.

Our UK-manufactured lighting solutions precisely attune illumination to the circadian rhythms of users, whilst at the same time delivering the traditional benefits of market-leading LED lighting such as energy efficiency, efficacy and even light distribution.

Get in touch today for more information

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