Society continues to shift, to expect more for their emotional and physical health. More frequently people are turning to natural remedies to achieve overall health and wellness, and staying away from pharmaceuticals, over the counter drugs, and anything deemed artificial. There is an increased push for plant based diets, organic diets, self-care, exercise regimes, and many other holistic approaches to health. As non-GMO, vegan, and self-love become mainstream words and phrases, one natural element, that is key to health and wellness, is often overlooked.
Lighting. As stated by Forbes “the story of light is really the story of life. From Genesis to photosynthesis, it’s a fascinating and important story.” Light is intertwined heavily with human experiences, and with our physiology. As societal shifts have led to an always on mentality, the impact that light has on our health is becoming more prevalent. Emails are answered at all hours of the night, vacation is some work and some play, and there is no closed sign in business windows on Sundays. Essentially the lights are always on.
As natural light has evolved, so have we, and frankly, our bodies are confused. During the day many people spend their time indoors, and at night many people spend their time under artificial light sources, that contain high levels of blue light. Gone is the time of sunlight during the day, and a candle flicker, the moon, and the stars to light up a conversation at night. However, how we lit up our world 100 years ago is almost proving to be a better alternative. Our bodies crave natural and sunlit areas during the day, and depend on darkness (or a lack of blue light) at night. As many artificial light sources continue to evolve, we can be proud of their energy efficient nature, and be thankful that we have a lit room to see, but these lights do not support, and are actually harmful, to our overall health and well-being.
All this being said, there is an alternative. Advancements in OLED lighting, are helping to make an artificial, healthy light, commercially available. Natural light contains an even balance of all the colors of the spectrum, and changes based on natural, uncontrolled occurrences. As stated by Phys.org, “OLED has the ability to tune its color’s for sunlight-style illumination.” OLED light has a spectral power distribution closest to natural sunlight of any other artificial light source, and simulates daytime light direction even when the Sun has gone down. The blue light that is emitted from OLED light fixtures is the right amount and type of blue light, and does not have a peak, which results in un-healthy levels of blue light. There is more energy in the blue part of the spectrum and our biological system is very sensitive to this.
OLED light also does not produce a glare. OLED light panels can be looked at directly without glare or causing harm to the eyes. They offer a soft diffused light, which has a generally pleasing aesthetic. The naturally diffused light, and the low heat emission, allows for light fixtures to be placed closer to the observer without causing harm to their health.
Lighting truly is a big piece of one’s health and wellness journey. Discounting the impact that light has on your health and wellness is ill-advised. As research continues to evolve scientists are now understanding that light travels through two separate pathways, the visual pathway (helps us perceive the world around us) and recently, they have learned that light also travels through a new set of photoreceptors called intrinsically photosensitive Retinal Ganglion Cells (ipRGCs) contributing mostly to the biological pathway.
As discussed in archdaily, “When the retina sends information about the light in the environment to the biological clock, it can trigger melatonin secretion, hormone production, digestion, increased or decreased muscle strength, core body temperature regulation, and immune response—everything is responding to the biological clock. And the whole thing is governed by signals from light in the environment and how it synchronizes with the internal clock.”
In this same article, Talieh Ghane, researcher of the interaction of light and health at the California Lighting Technology Center observes, it’s really a public health issue. Right now a lot of the policies and the technology are focused on the visual effects of light and not really considering the biological effects of light—because we don’t see it, it’s not tangible. We don’t really know what’s going on and we can’t really quantify this light, so it’s very hard to pinpoint where the problems are. But we are starting to see all these issues. It might be too late when we finally realize what we have done to our bodies.”
The ability to understand the impact that light has on our health and wellness is critical. As OLED technology continues to make strides, we are hopeful that an artificial light source, with the ability to mimic natural light, will provide a new level of health and wellness to society.