As a color designer for interior design and architecture, I am always confronted with the problems of light. I have recently been doing some research and would like to share my results with you.
Light plays, aesthetically, an important role in creating beautiful spaces. With light you can change the atmosphere completely from being gloomy to making it serene or adding excitement. Light animates space more than any other element.
Light is important in offices and in our homes, not only from an artistic perspective, but also as a contribution to our health. In fact, more and more scientific research is showing how inadequate lighting can affect our health considerably. Architects and the interior designer have to be aware of the importance of light on our health. They need to take this into consideration when designing lighting systems for interiors, such as homes, hospitals, schools and offices where people spend most of the daytime.
In an article printed in the “Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, Vol. 34, No.4 (August 2008)”, the authors and researchers observed how exposure to blue enriched white light affected the performance of office workers during working hours. Their results showed that “exposure to blue-enriched white light during daytime work hours improves subjective alertness, performance, and evening fatigue. “
For many years, Color designers have been arguing for the importance of a lighting system that includes all colors of the spectrum, in order to create a healthy environment. Most lamps only include parts of the color spectrum, which means that the body is impoverished of certain colors that are to be found in sunlight, but are not in some artificial lighting. However, the above mentioned article implies that blue light is particularly effective for improving performance, and actually making office workers feel generally much better throughout the day. Actually, this fact corresponds very well with natural lighting. During the morning and midday, the blue spectrum of sunlight is more predominant.
Whereas blue light can add to personal well-being during the early parts of the day, it can be considerably hazardous to the health if predominant during the late evening or during night time.
In the article “What´s in a Color? The Unique Human Effects of Blue Light.” by David C. Holzman, published in Journal Environmental Health Perspectives, the author discusses the latest researches made on light, particularly blue light. Here he cites that “….. blues are the most important wavelengths for entraining the circadian system.” and “The blue wave length suppresses melatonin…” (page A26 of article). Generally, too much light at night time can suppress the production of melatonin, but the blue wavelengths are worst of all. It has been proven that blue light will suppress melatonin five times more than orange-yellow light. A blue light during the evening will activate the intellect. Actually, a dim orange-yellow light during the evening creates a much more relaxing atmosphere: just like natural light, when the sun sets to leave a rich, warm glow in the sky. This type of light prepares us for the night and helps us to sleep faster and deeper.
When blue light suppresses the production of melatonin, this has extremely negative effects on health. Melatonin is created by the pineal gland while we are sleeping. It is responsible for increasing the effectiveness of the immune system and enhances our well being. It controls the circadian rhythm, our body´s clock. Any one who flies to other parts of the world, will know how disturbing it can be when the circadian rhythm is out of order. It increases fatigue during the daytime and makes it difficult to concentrate.
Incidentally, according to scientific research, it is not only the blue, which is predominant in lamps, that is a problem. Here are some examples for light sources high in melatonin-suppressing blue light: iPads, iPhones, computer monitors, laptop computers, LED televisions and LED digital clocks.
The human brain and light are so related to each other. Within a few years, we hope to have a light system in all living and working areas, that changes its color and temperature in the same way that the sun does throughout the day. Our modern environment will gain another step to being a healthier place to live in.
Research material from www.jestor.org
“Scandinavial Journal of Work, Environment & Health, Vol. 34, No.4 (August 2008)”
Authors: Antoine U.Viola PhD, Lynette M. James, Luc JM Schlangen PhD, and Derk Jan Dijk PhD
“What´s in a Color? The Unique Human Effects of Blue Light.” by David C. Holzman
published in Journal Environmental Health Perspectives,