There is yet an artificial system to be designed that can compete with the intelligence of the human body. Circadian lighting, however, comes pretty close.
The ABCs of Circadian
Feeling energetic in the morning and restful in the evening is all a part of our body’s natural circadian rhythm. A circadian rhythm is any biological process that displays a self-sustained, environment-centric oscillation of about 24 hours. Simply put, it means that the body has internal clock synced to the solar movements through the day. Many plants and animals have a circadian clock of their own. In human beings, it’s particularly important as it not only affects our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing, it also has a direct impact on our productivity.
Though diet and physical activity contribute to it to a great extent, daylight has the biggest role to play in developing a healthy circadian rhythm in an individual.
Putting sleep to work
Our sleep cycles are regulated by two primary hormones – melatonin, which helps us fall asleep, and cortisol, which gives us a wake-up call in the morning. Melatonin is released when our eyes sense the lack of light (e.g. in the evening) and this release makes us drowsy. This is why we are advised to switch off our smartphones in the night, as the bright light from the phone supresses melatonin secretion.
Cortisol secretion makes us alert and even hungry. Once we fall asleep, cortisol levels in our body steadily increase, and they peak just before we wake up. This way, our natural wake-up time is directly linked to when we go to sleep, which in turn, depends on the time our optic nerves start to perceive darkness.
Design light. Design work.
If our optic nerves sense darkness during the day, melatonin will be released during these hours, making us drowsy in the morning and active in the evening. Since productivity is directly linked to our mental activity, such a disruption in our internal cycle can make us sluggish and inefficient. For us to be our most efficient selves, we need to be exposed to lighting that mimics the natural light progression through the day. Such a lighting design is called Circadian Lighting.
Circadian Lighting is not just about switching on the lights in the morning and turning them off in the evening. They involve factors such as colour, frequency and brightness. In general, lights of high frequency and intensity promote alertness, while the lack of this stimulus signals the body to reduce energy expenditure and prepare for rest. The biological effect of lights on human beings is calculated in Equivalent Melanopic Lux (EML) which is a measure of light’s effects on the circadian cycle.
For a good circadian lighting design, the following condition should be met for at least 4 hours per day for every day of the year:
- At least 250 equivalent melanopic lux should be present within at least 75% of workstations, on the vertical plane facing forward 1.2 m [4 ft] above finished floor (to simulate the view of the occupant).
This measure for an ideal circadian lighting system has been defined as per the WELL Building Standards, which is an industry standard that marries the best practices in design and construction with evidence-based health and wellness interventions.
At Arraystorm, our futuristic Lighting Management System – ETHOS – is an example of circadian lighting. ETHOS has been designed bearing these standards in mind, to improve overall wellbeing and productivity in the occupants.
To know more about ETHOS and its benefits, visit https://www.arraystorm.com/ETHOS