In this blog Versa Technology is circling back on a previous post, Adjustable LED Lighting: Revolutionizing Workspace Design, to share insight on several developments taking place in the research of light and its effects on health and productivity. Light frequencies can be harnessed to mirror those found in nature. Researchers are finding that the right application of light can bring about benefits that not only make work more enjoyable; they can impact the bottom line also from the resulting increase in employee productivity. An investment in smart LED lighting systems is an investment in better working conditions that far outweigh the initial investment in smart Power over Ethernet (PoE) lighting systems.
The Natural Impact of Warm and Cool Light
Warm light is lower in frequency and occurs in nature at dawn and dusk, bookending the daylight cycle. This light is lower in frequency and provides a relaxing effect on the brain. That’s why adjustable lighting can work with and not against the flow of a natural feeling atmosphere in a room. Warmer light also promotes a feeling of wellbeing. It is appropriate for spaces in an office where workers go to relax.
Cool light is higher in frequency and occurs when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky. Light that is higher in frequency can promote focus and productivity and is perfect for areas within a campus where workers do the bulk of their work. It’s also good for spaces where collaboration takes place.
Model of Brain Response to Light Therapy
Image Courtesy of TheScientist
How Light Interacts with the Brain
Light travels in frequencies. Different wavelengths are proving to have a profound effect, at least within controlled environments. For example, bathing patients in flashing light and pulsing sounds [pink noise] both tuned to a frequency of 40Hz is showing promise in reversing signs of Alzheimer’s in the brain. Li-Huei Tsai, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) neuroscientist, conducted a study back in March 2015, with two groups of mice programmed to produce the same plaque (Amyloid) that concentrates in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. The mice that received one hour per day of flickering strobe light had a 50 percent reduction in the levels of plaque than others that spent the same hour in the dark.
This lightwave therapy also called gamma wave therapy or brainwave entrainment, synchronizes brain waves naturally with the rhythm of the light frequencies. Click here to see and hear a simulation of light and sound therapy used for Alzheimer’s treatment.
Prolonged exposure to daylight is also reducing sleeplessness in elderly patients with both Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Getting patients out into the sunlight on a regular and prolonged basis promotes longer sleep cycles, and enough sleep slows the progression of either disease.
The implications of this study are profound. If light is helping people with acute health conditions, what can an introduction of exposure to light frequencies that more closely mirrors that found in nature do for those with milder challenges?
The Impact of Outdated Lighting Solutions on Workers
Decision-makers can increase worker well-being and productivity by making better lighting quality a priority. To drive home this point, let’s examine some of the effects of poor lighting quality.
1. Mental Fog Due to Sleep Deprivation
Fluorescent lighting, a cooler light with higher frequency, can disrupt the inner clock in the human brain. The scientific term for these inner cycles is circadian rhythms. They tell your body when to wake up and when to go to sleep. Keeping the internal clock aligned with natural light frequencies throughout the day helps support mental sharpness. Increasingly sophisticated Power Over Ethernet lighting solutions can be programmed to mimic the light frequencies that are happening outside, contributing to the mental focus of workers. Because the flow of light flows with natural brain tendencies, workers will experience deeper and longer sleep cycles, which promote productive functioning throughout the day.
Linked to mental fog is also mental and physical fatigue. It becomes harder to solve problems creatively and look at situations from different perspectives when you’re already struggling to apply yourself mentally.
Light within the range of daylight frequencies can boost mental clarity for workers who are trying to push through. Lowering light frequencies at end-of-day into evening, can help people begin to wind down and begin the relaxation period of the day and their brains prepare for sleep later on.
The Mayo Clinic identifies light as being one of the primary causes of eyestrain. Too much or too little exposure to light can throw things out of whack. Extended amounts of blue light is one notorious cause. Straining to see in dim light is another.
Symptoms can include sore, watery eyes, tension in the neck and shoulders, difficulty concentrating, and the feeling of not being able to keep eyes open.
4. Migraine Headaches
Headaches of differing degrees can be triggered by the intensity of bright lighting in office spaces and is especially true for those who experience chronic episodes. By providing warmer lower-frequency lighting and the ability to dim lights within their workspace, employees can overcome this susceptibility.
Many lighting and facility platforms offer mobile that allow people individualized control over defined areas within a building. Workers struggling with these tendencies can enjoy relief through the use of lighting controls.
Power Over Ethernet Lighting to Create Natural Light Frequencies in the Workplace
Around the same time that Dr. Tsai was researching mice at MIT, Doctors Mohamed Boubekri, Ph.D., Ivy N. Cheung, B.A., and a distinguished group of researchers for the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine conducted a study examining the impact of daylight exposure on the health of office workers, specifically pertaining to sleep quality and patterns.
Participants in the study (2 groups), either worked in an environment with no or low window exposure versus those who had exposure to daylight while in an office setting. Workers in windowless workspaces lacked vitality, had physical problems, and exhibited the effects of poor sleep and sleep disturbances. The employees with windows and exposure to daylight were more active and had better sleep scores.
The conclusion of the findings of the MIT study?
We suggest that architectural design of office environments should place more emphasis on sufficient daylight exposure.
Easier said than done, as retrofitting windows into commercial buildings can come at a steep price point.
The Benefits of Natural Light Anywhere
Power Over Ethernet lighting systems and platforms are a much more cost-effective solution than renovating to add windows. After contractors and materials, you can be looking at a sizable investment. Alternatively, adding LED lights and connecting them to a lighting platform can quickly give you a comprehensive solution to the full frequency of light and control, while stretching over an entire floor or even a building at a fraction of the cost. The improved health and well being of workers, though, is priceless and will reflect company productivity as they flourish on the job.
Find out more about Versa Technology’s PoE networking solutions (used to implement PoE Lighting Systems), follow this link.