Using colour temperature to improve our health and wellbeing
Do you feel more energetic after walking to work in the morning? Or on edge when you are visiting the hospital? And why is candle light so relaxing?
The answer to all of these is colour temperature.
Different intensities of light cause the body to release different hormones. A high colour temperature triggers the release of Serotonin which effects our mood and energy levels. This is referred to as blue light or a cool temperature and occurs naturally from the sun during the day.
A low colour temperature triggers the production and release of Melatonin which causes us to unwind, relax then become sleepy. Low colour temperature is often referred to as warm, red light and occurs naturally at the end of the day.
This was fine when we spent the majority of our time outdoors and our daily patterns of life were based on the sun. Even when we started using candles and incandescent lights in the evening we were still largely in sync with the sun as they naturally have a warm colour temperature.
The shift to fluorescents and then LED’s has been more of an issue as only recently has it been possible to get a low colour temperature from LED lighting. Making this worse the perception of brightness is sometimes achieved by using a high colour temperature LED to provide a crisp clear light. This is often the case in hospitals and workplaces which is great when you need to be active but not when you are trying to relax.
Thankfully in the last few years both the technology and the science behind this has advanced. It is now possible to adjust the colour temperature using some manufacturers products and the DALI lighting control standard now has a specific function for adjusting colour temperature. After a slow start, we are now seeing more and more lights, ballasts and controllers that support colour temperature control so we can finally start to create truly human centric lighting.
Countless studies have now shown that when colour temperature is adapted to the required activity and the time of day in home, workplace and public buildings it can have a really positive effect on our health and well-being. It can make learning easier, increase effectiveness at work and even help calm and relax people living with dementia.
Lighting that makes us better people - what a bright idea...