For all that they are crucial for the majority of tasks we perform each day, our eyes are incredibly sensitive organs. As well as being important for shaping our perception of the outside world, they play a vital, if unheralded, role in helping our bodies react to sunlight and regulate our sleeping patterns.
Most modern artificial light plays havoc with the receptors in our eyes, inhibiting our body’s ability to manage its internal clock. The plethora of blue light exposure we encounter in our day-to-day lives – thanks to our computers, smartphones and and an increasingly indoor lifestyle – greatly inhibits generation of the sleep hormone Melatonin. This has far-reaching consequences for us as a society: many of us experience increased fatigue, a lower sense of psychological well-being and significant sleep disruption as a result of this deprivation.
As we become more aware of how light affects the way our bodies behave, so technology is adapting to help counter these negative effects. More and more lighting manufacturers are exploring the concept of biodynamic illumination, that is, light systems that more accurately reflect sunlight and carefully manage the colour range displayed throughout the day to provide optimum lighting conditions for each part of the day.
A home in sync with nature
Cold-tone, high-brightness lighting boosts the body’s levels of Cortisol, which is vital for periods where we want to concentrate on important tasks. By displaying this type of illumination in the morning, our minds will find it easier to focus and perform at our most efficient during the period where we are most alert.
As the day progresses our bodies, which are hardwired to react to changes in sunlight, benefit greatly from a switch towards a warmer, less powerful light source. This helps us to relax and means that our bodies are better prepared for when sleep arrives. When used in tandem with colour-adaptive products such as the new generation iPad Pro, this can greatly reduce any ill effects from using technology late in the day.
For those who often wake during the night, there is nothing more disruptive for your sleeping pattern than having to switch on bright lights in the hallway, bathroom or kitchen. Instead, having an intelligent lighting system that only displays low-level, warm illumination on the red end of the spectrum helps to keep the body in a sleep-ready mode, so you can drop back off as soon as you return to bed.
Who can benefit from biodynamic lighting?
Anyone who frequently works from home should consider incorporating a system that adapts throughout the day, as deliver optimum lighting conditions will enable working at maximum productivity. For all intelligent residence owners, however, biodynamic illumination can make a significant positive impact, whether by keeping lights on the blue end of the spectrum while the kids are finishing off their homework or building a warm, calming atmosphere that helps everyone to wind down and totally relax after a stressful day.
For anyone who suffers from seasonal affective disorder or depression, multiple studies, such as this report by the Lighting For People research project, have indicated that daily exposure to clear, natural simulation of strong light can have a positive effect on health and well-being. Equally, research has suggested that older generations derive an increased benefit from an adaptive lighting system, particularly when mobility means that they are unable to spend as much time out of doors as they once were able to.
The other major element to consider when it comes to biodynamic lighting is the likely circadian rhythms of the members of the households. Younger members of the family – particularly teenagers – are likely to have different sleep cycles and hormone levels to adults. An optimal integration of this technology will take into account the different needs of the household and their various needs when it comes to light stimulation.