If you feel more lethargic and moody in the winter, it is not just your imagination. The one hour time shift in November actually disrupts our circadian rhythm–the body’s internal clock–causing real biological changes that can affect our performance and our health. The good news is that some of the latest advancements in lighting technology have discovered ways to mimic natural light to help restore our natural rhythms for improved health. These solutions include not only circadian lighting but also using the technique of layering light to facilitate the transition from day to night.
The Dark Side of Longer Nights
Our bodies are sensitive to many factors in our environment, but lighting is the top cue that helps to reset the body’s internal 24-hour clock. Since society has evolved to be mostly indoors, we are typically lacking exposure to much-needed natural light during the day, yet receiving too much artificial light at night — all of which disrupt our natural rhythms. Now that daylight savings has ended, the longer, darker nights cause us to use even more artificial lighting — precisely when our bodies need a strong light signal the least. Not only is natural light essential to regulating circadian rhythms, but traditional electric lighting lacks key elements of natural light that communicate with circadian system. Chronic health issues, poor sleep habits, poor productivity, increased stress and an overall decline in our well-being can all be traced to disruptions in our circadian rhythms.
Circadian Lighting Regulates Your Biological Clock
In its most basic form, circadian lighting strives to achieve biologically brighter days and biologically darker nights to help reinforce our internal clock and provide more robust circadian rhythms. The problem we face today is that traditional electric lighting does not contain the proper wavelengths of light that help stimulate our internal clock and this constant exposure to insufficient light signals can lead to circadian disruption. Circadian disruption has been shown to increase the risk of many familiar chronic diseases which affect millions of people including greater risk of obesity, increased addiction to alcohol and nicotine, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease to name a few. BIOS SkyBlue™ lighting technology represents the missing link between traditional electric lighting and sunlight, and is spectrally-optimized to provide the key sky-blue frequencies found in daylight and bring it indoors.
Layers in Lighting Design
Layering in lighting design refers to the use of multiple lighting strategies within a space. For example, a central light in a room is considered one layer of light; if you add a table lamp and a floor lamp, you now have three layers of light. The larger and more dynamic the tasks are within the room, the more impactful layering becomes.
Creating layers of light is a best practice in lighting design, whether it is regarding interior spaces or landscape lighting. Layers of light add visual interest and, when coordinated with interior finishes, can help people more easily navigate their way through spaces without conscious effort. For example, the use of multiple layers of light in a conference room allows occupants to adjust the lighting for presentations, creating a clear focal point centered around the presenter. Another example is the use of accent lighting on key signage, graphic, or wayfinding elements to help establish clear focal points that guide people through a space.
With circadian lighting, it is also important to consider layers of light and lighting strategies that focus on the transition from day to night.. During the day, it is preferable to have lighting that is located above the “horizon,” that helps to illuminate the “sky area” in our field of view. Ideally, daytime lighting strategies would offer higher light output and more of the sky-blue frequencies that our bodies need during the day. At night, it is preferable to have lighting primarily located below the “horizon”, such as table lamps or focused light that illuminates work surfaces or task planes. By decreasing nighttime light levels, with respect to daytime light levels, we create a clear biological delineation between day and night which reinforces our internal clocks, helping our circadian system to perform better.
Choose SkyBlue for Your Lighting
BIOS SkyBlue® lighting technology produces the natural blue sky light wavelength necessary to communicate directly with our circadian biology and help regulate sleep, along with many other physiological processes. Other forms of circadian lighting, like color-tuning, lack the specific wavelengths of light which are most effective at for regulating our circadian rhythms. BIOS SkyBlue® lighting technology is perfect for spaces like schools and offices where we spend most of our daytime hours and can help people maintain their circadian rhythms, which become even more vulnerable in the longer winter nights.