You may not realise it, but lighting can significantly affect our wellbeing.
Think about it – we’re exposed to many different kinds of lighting everyday. Artificial lighting can play havoc with our eyes, but there is a lot of research and evidence to suggest that LEDs are the best closest alternative to natural light and can have positive impacts on our health and wellbeing.
We all know the saying – healthy body, healthy mind. A lot of the links between lights and our health come from the hormones that are released as a result of sunlight exposure. Obviously, nothing beats natural light – it stimulates Serotonin which lifts our mood, Cortisol which boosts our energy levels, and vitamin D which keeps our bones healthy.
The daily light-to-dark, day-to-night cycle that we’re all used to improves our quality of life and exposure to bright, natural light is one of the best things we can do to for our minds. So much so, that many psychiatrists recommend that people get out in the sunlight for at least 30 minutes a day to help prevent or treat depression. It makes us feel more awake and alert and sleep better at night – which can only mean good things for our wellbeing and stress levels.
The reality is, however, that 90% of us spend our waking hours indoors – usually at work during the day and at home at night, and therefore are missing out on that all important natural light. You may have heard of something called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which affects around one in 15 people in the UK during the colder months between September and April when they do not get enough sunlight, meaning that their bodies do not release enough Serotonin. A common treatment for SAD is light therapy and recently, LED lighting has been the go-to aid within this, being as it is the closest alternative to natural light.
The health benefits of LED lighting.
So what exactly are the benefits of LED lighting on our health? As mentioned before, it balances our 24 hour internal clock that runs in the background of our brain, differentiating between night and day and sleepiness and alertness. This is called our circadian rhythm, and lighting with certain blue wavelengths, such as LEDs, are known to mimic the stimulus provided by natural light in daytime hours to promote the health of this process.
Many forms of artificial lighting, such as fluorescent bulbs, increase the occurrence of headaches and migraines, largely down to their annoying tendency to flicker. Fluorescent bulbs are pretty common in office environments but with workers the world over no strangers to the health implications of bad lighting, with eye strain and migraines at the top of the list of the concerns, offices are making the switch to LEDs. With LEDs, evidence proved an increase in work performance with less spelling errors and improved reading speeds, increased productivity and decreased eye strain, migraines and headaches.
And lastly, LEDs decrease stress and anxiety. Humans naturally thrive in sunlight and are more likely to experience negative behaviour and mood changes when lighting doesn’t mimic that of natural environments. LEDs solve this problem, keeping us happy, awake and alert. In fact, the ‘waking up’ effect of the blue light found within LEDs can actually make you more alert than coffee. According to a study by scientists at Mid Sweden University, people exposed to blue light for an hour performed better on reaction tests than those who had drunk three coffees – not that that’ll stop me drinking it!
As well as keeping your circadian rhythm ticking along naturally and helping to keep your stress levels at bay, LEDs are incredibly energy efficient. If you haven’t made the switch to LEDs yet, INUI’s LED lighting calculator can help you to work out the financial and energy savings you could be making within your home or work place. See the light and make the switch!
Have you switched to LEDs yet? Let me know in the comments!