Researchers have uncovered links between lighting design and the physical and mental well-being of the human body. Many of their studies have focused on how lights of different color temperature interact with natural circadian rhythms—physiological changes experienced over the course of a 24-hour cycle primarily driven by light and darkness in one’s environment—and how to make that interaction produce better, healthier outcomes.
Lighting design that is in harmony with one’s circadian rhythms incorporates light fixtures that emit varying color temperatures depending on the time of day. This process is known as circadian adaptive lighting, and can make patients sleep better, workers more efficient, and students more focused.
Here is how it works. A light that produces a high color temperature, such as a blue or white hue, is associated with the temperature of daylight at sunrise and instinctively wakes up the body, making one more alert. On the contrary, a low color temperature light that emits a warmer hue, such as amber or yellow, simulates the temperature of daylight at sunset and relaxes and calms the body, preparing it for sleep.
Circadian adaptive lighting is extremely beneficial—and becoming increasingly less expensive due to the advancements in LED lighting—in hospital settings, whether it is employed in patient or hospital staff areas. Patients, especially those who are in intensive care units, benefit from lighting with low color temperatures as it will not promote the waking process, allowing the patient to continue to rest and heal. Since hospital staff work in night shifts, areas with lights in a blue or white hue can aid in adjusting the worker’s circadian rhythm to be more alert and awake at night.
RTM has realized the benefits of low-temperature lighting design in several healthcare projects, including night lighting in patient areas of Watertown Regional Medical Center.
We encourage anyone interested in designing with circadian adaptive lighting to contact us for more information.