Light pollution stops city dwellers from seeing the full star spangled glory of the night sky. We may think this is a fair trade of for being able to read books in bed and not fall down manhole covers when walking down the street at night. Fair as it might be, it is only one element of the complex relationship we have with light.
There is a whole spectrum of light, some of which is beneficial, others not so much. We’re aware of the harmful and possibly carcinogenic effect of direct sunlight on our skin, but this doesn’t mean all other light is good for us.
Our bodies work similarly to how they have since our species began. We are bound by something called circadian rhythm, the biological process we undergo in about a 24 hour period. This time period is known as a day or, more exactly, a solar day. It is a natural cycle which, if we go against, can affect our energy levels, our moods and our overall health.
Blue light is one of the most important aspects of how our circadian rhythms are affected. We need this blue light to get through our days. This means, working in offices which provide the right kind of light for the right time of day.
If we leave our shades open in the summer, the sun streaming in often wakes us up. It’s not because of brightness, but because of the sun’s light filtering through our skin, setting our body clock’s alarm. While at work, if in darkened spaces, we don’t get this radiant goodness which can keep us going through the later morning and early afternoon especially.
Controlling this amount of blue light is imperative and LEDs have been proven to be great at it. And it is control which is the important factor here. Blue light can also disrupt our sleep patterns if we get too much of it at the wrong time. It can decrease melatonin production, a hormone from our pineal gland which helps us to sleep. This is why you may have heard of people telling you to turn your tablets and phones off before you go to bed.
LEDs can be programmed to emit different amounts of light at different times of the day. In the home, we have home automation hubs which can set the light to different intensities at different times. The same can be done in the office or in industrial spaces, except with a little more planning. This can increase productivity when it needs it and sets you off for the end of the day when things quiet down. Boeing have even introduced these controllable LEDs in their 787 Dreamliner to help passengers have the most relaxing flight available.
Helping with sleep and daily rhythm affects mood, but LED lights can help us even more fundamentally. By allowing us the right kind of light to release serotonin, one of the hormones which affect happiness and well-being, we can help the symptoms of SAD (Seasonal Affected Disorder). The control of lights helps keep us balanced against dark days, improving productivity by improving our wellness and motivation to carry on with our lives.