We are all governed, so some degree, by our circadian rhythm or internal body clock, when this is disrupted, we don’t perform effectively. One of the biggest synchronizers of our circadian cycle is light. This can be both artificial and natural light. Colour, intensity, and direction all impact us – leading to a healthy circadian rhythm or a disrupted one. Within the workplace many employees spend large amounts of time indoors under artificial lighting that is static in colour, brightness and direction. It is important for our bodies to receive the right kind of light at the right time of day otherwise we can feel lethargic, unhappy, not be very productive and long term disruption can lead to various mental and physical health conditions. However, getting the lighting right can lead to a whole host of benefits for employees but also in turn employers.
Circadian lighting has been around for many years now, but the true potential has only recently started to be discovered by the masses. The diagram below presents how light and bodily functions correlate.
Some of the benefits of circadian lighting are:
- Increased productivity
- Increased concentration
- Improved sleep
- Improved mood
- Less risk of developing certain mental and physical health conditions
- Reduction in errors and accidents
- Faster cognitive processing
- Increased alertness in the morning
- Can aid with the rehabilitation of certain medical conditions e.g. brain injuries
How does circadian lighting work?
The colour and intensity of natural light changes throughout the day, beginning with a warm amber colour at sunrise slowly changing into a cooler, brighter light during the day, before warming back into an amber light at sunset. Therefore, artificial lighting should do the same. Humans are programmed to be in sync with natural light – it is only relatively recently that humans have begun to spend large amounts of time indoors. A study conducted by USA Today surveyed around 16,000 people across 14 countries in North America and Europe and found that around 90% of people spend close to 22 hours inside every day! Therefore, our circadian rhythm can quickly become out of sync, the impact of having a rhythm that is out of sync for a long period of time is well documented, Web MD state that a circadian rhythm that is out of sync for a prolonged period of time has been linked to different disorders including diabetes, obesity, and depression.
Installing circadian lighting is pretty straight forward, there are number of options in terms of wired and wireless solutions depending on your needs, sensors can also be easily integrated as well as other systems and devices creating a cohesive solution that response to building occupant needs. The software uses LED lights which are capable of producing up to 7 colour channels to automatically deliver the best circadian supportive environment for employees.
Recent studies have shown that the productivity of office workers has increased by up to 20% following the introduction of circadian lighting. It has also been linked to a reduction in sick days as employees generally feel healthier and happier. Another study conducted by Cohere found that workers in offices without windows took 6.5% more sick leave each year. This is the same issue that circadian lighting aims to resolve, providing (as close as possible) the same benefits as natural light.