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How Lighting Affects Health

We don’t really need to be told how lighting can affect how you’re feeling. There’s a reason we refer to darker colours as “depressing” and lighter colours as “happy”, and we’ve all experienced dim lighting deflating our mood or a dingy space depressing motivation. But just how much does light affect health? Could it, for example, affect physical recovery in hospital? This article will take a look at research relating to natural light, artificial light and health in the workplace as well as some recent research into light in hospitals.

Lighting in the workplace

There are both physical and physiological consequences of poorly managed lighting in the workplace. Problems with eyestrain have chequered the workplace for over a decade now; The Steelcase Worldwide Office Environment Index carried out in 1991 found that 64% of computer users listed eyestrain as the number one health hazard in the workplace, and with increasing reliance on computers screens and monitors, the scope for these problems to get worse is looming threat.

But it’s not just employee perspective which is the problem – efficiency at work place drops in correlation with eyestrain. A study by Cornell University indicates that 24% of workers in a poorly lit environment reported a loss of work time due to vision problems and discomfort. Generally, the time lost was well over 15 minutes per day, which translates to giving every worker an extra week of paid holiday per year.

The physiological and psychological impact

We’ve all experienced light affecting our mood. Light encourages the production of vitamin D, melatonin and serotonin which helps to regulate our body clock and keeps us working productively. Serotonin also keeps moods regulated and lifted. If the balance between serotonin and melatonin release becomes skewed, and the circadian rhythm is affected then this can have a whole range of detrimental health consequences including poor concentration, tiredness, and a lowered mood. Indeed, a recent study assessing the use of light in hospital reported that patients exposed to a lot of light during recovery experienced less perceived stress and less pain, taking 22% less analgesic medication per hour compared with patients in a dimmer room, with 21% less pain medication costs incurred.

How can you ensure your workplace is properly lit?

The best way to ensure your workplace lighting is enhancing employees productivity and mood is to engage a lighting professional who can not only give you recommendations on how to light your space to reduce health problems for workers. Ergonomic monitors will work in harmony with your employees bodies and mount lcd arms make it easier for employees to position screens so as to reduce eye strain. Fortunately a lighting professional should also have the know-how to engineer the lighting so it fits into your office and be able to make sustainable recommendations.

Written by: CMD Ltd

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