I’ve blogged before about the importance of considering “human-centric” or “circadian lighting” patterns for offices — both at home and in commercial buildings. For those unfamiliar, this concept centers around the idea that humans respond better to lighting which mirrors the natural lighting cycle of the sky – so, whitish, blueish light midday; warmer, “orange” light in the early morning and evenings.
There seems to be some credence to the idea that tunable lighting and lighting temperature have significant impacts on human health and wellness.
We started to see some applications of it in spaces like ultra-modern offices and even nursing homes — and now, we might have a better understanding of how circadian lighting works at a biological level.
According to a recent post on ledsmagazine.com, the circadian system typically acts as a “blue-sky detector,” requiring less luminance for cooler light than warm to stimulate a response. But recent research suggests “different 4000K light sources can be both the most and the least efficient at stimulating the human circadian system.”
More from the article:
“Consider a blue LED…If one were to add 100 lx of low-pressure sodium (LPS) to make the combined light appear “white”…the total illuminance at the eye would…be 117 lx, but counterintuitively, the circadian effectiveness of the combined light would drop to CS = 0.27 (Fig. 1). This is known as subadditivity — in other words…The same basic mechanism that governs brightness perception also influences the effectiveness of circadian light…
“Brightness perception is determined by two chromatic channels as well as an achromatic, black-and-white channel. When more light is added to the retina, the achromatic channel increases its response.
“…perceived brightness of a light depends not only on its achromatic light level but also on its apparent hue. Red and green lights are more “hueful” than a yellow (or white) light. The same basic physiology contributes to circadian light.”
“The intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) represent the lynchpin between the retina and the biological clock, linking the external 24-hour light dark cycle to our internal rhythms of behavior and physiology.”
I’m not going to lie, a lot of the report from LEDs Magazine went into details only a scientist would be able to parse. Essentially, though, this report goes on to say that:
“But the concepts are important to advancing the science behind applying circadian lighting principles. However, now that these complexities have been established, it should be relieving to know that a lighting manufacturer or designer does not need to know all of the intricacies of retinal neurophysiology to provide circadian light to building occupants.
While complicated and definitely out of IT purview, this technology should soon evolve in the marketplace to a point where better, more dialed-in solutions for corporate spaces are available out-of-the-box. Until that point, it can’t hurt to start trying to understand it’s importance to overall employee wellness.