Do you have trouble getting to sleep after watching television or using your computer or smartphone at night? If you answered yes, it may be due to the exposure of blue-rich light from your screen. While blue light is helpful during the day, boosting awareness and attention, it can be detrimental to wellbeing at night, as it suppresses the secretion of melatonin, disrupting sleep and potentially causing an array of harmful effects.
But fear not. As lighting designers we’re well versed in photobiology (the scientific study of the interactions of light and living organisms) to create lighting products designed to work with our circadian rhythm (a.k.a. natural body clock) to enhance health and wellbeing.
The circadian system
The circadian system is a roughly 24-hour cycle that tells the body when to sleep and when to wake, as well as regulating other biological functions such as hunger, body temperature, blood pressure, growth and the release of melatonin and cortisol. When the circadian rhythm is in tune, the body’s cycle is optimised and stable, which helps maximise productivity and sleep quality. However, the circadian rhythm can easily be thrown out of whack and one of the primary reasons is light. Too much light at night and our sleep suffers; not enough light during the day and our productivity decreases.
Fortunately there is a growing body of research in photobiology so that our lighting products go far beyond aesthetics to actually enhance human health and function by mimicking natural daytime or night-time conditions.
Daylight – or sunlight – is the benchmark that electric lighting needs to imitate to optimise circadian health and wellbeing. However, as the colour and intensity of sunlight changes throughout the day – from warm amber light at sunrise, to cool bright light during day, and back to amber light at sunset – electric lighting also needs to reproduce these changing colours and intensities to maximise human function.
In fact, circadian lighting – electric lighting based on the circadian rhythm – in the work environment has been proven to increase productivity, while in healthcare environments it has been found to help patients heal faster and boost the performance of medical staff.
How we create lighting that enhances health and wellbeing
At ISM Objects we use LED lights that are specifically engineered to facilitate a healthy circadian rhythm. Some bulbs, such as workplace lights, emit increased blue light wavelengths to promote greater energy and attentiveness. This technology is actually founded on the same principles NASA used to improve the sleep and performance of astronauts on the International Space Station.
Other technology sees colour-tunable LEDs that can deliver light in colour temperatures ranging from warm (yellowish) tones to cool (bluish) tones. This means that by changing the correlated colour temperature (CCT) light can be ‘tuned’ for different times of the day or night depending on the environment.
At ISM Objects we are committed to create lighting products that are not only good for the environment but also good for our bodies. By producing electric light that replicates the effect of natural light, we’re helping give our customers and their clients, employees, visitors, friends and family a better chance of sleeping better, working better and feeling better every day.