Lighting Design and the Impact on Mental Health

When you consider aspects of your life which impact your mental health, how often does the lighting you are in come to mind? It can be stressful to wonder about all the potential factors which could be contributing to stress, anxiety and even depression. Lighting choices are most likely not one of the first potential problems you associate with mental health concerns, but they should be.

As a society we find ourselves spending more and more of our time inside, under artificial lighting, and less of our time in the sunlight. Light has a significant biological impact, it can improve or disrupt our sleep, cognition and overall well being. It can improve mood and stabilize our circadian rhythms. Psychologically, healthy light sources can decrease depression scores and increase cognitive performance such as reaction time.

Known ill-health effects associated with bad artificial lighting design include eye strain, headaches, fatigue, stress and anxiety, as well as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). While not often a widely discussed mental health disorder, SAD can have significant implications for a person’s health and happiness.

According to Dr. Joe Taravella, a supervisor of pediatric psychology at NYU Langone Medical center, “SAD affects anywhere from 5% to 10% of the population.” That is a significant portion of the population suffering from clinical levels of depression for up to a quarter of the year.

Medical research, as reported by Mayo Clinic, finds that the current known casual factors of Seasonal Affective Disorder are changes in your circadian rhythm, or biological clock, and serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that affects mood. Reduced exposure to sunlight and over exposure to harmful artificial lighting can disrupt your body's internal clock or cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression. One of the most effective treatments for conditions like SAD is light therapy, exposure to the right color and type of light at different points in the day, to combat reduced sunlight and bad artificial lighting.

We can be proud of the efficiency of our artificial lighting, grateful for the ability to work in well-lit indoor spaces, and still recognize the potential harm to our mental health and overall well-being caused by this artificial lighting.

In our technology-filled, progress-driven world, it is impossible to avoid artificial lighting entirely. However, as discussed in some of our previous past articles, health and wellness is possible in the age of artificial lighting. Advancements in OLED lighting are helping to make an artificial, healthy light, commercially available for use in hospitality interior design and residential interior design.

  • OLED lighting is considered a healthy light source because its advanced technology prevents some of the harsh physical and mental health side effects of artificial lighting.

  • OLED light fixtures are a full spectrum light source covering the electromagnetic spectrum from infrared to near-ultraviolet. This means that they mimic natural sunlight.

  • OLED light fixtures expose you to the right color and amount of light to be productive during the day, while not disrupting your biological clock and therefore your ability to sleep at night.

  • OLED light sources have no risk for blue light exposure. Blue light exposure is one of the key lighting issues impacting physical and mental health. It has been linked to stress, anxiety, sleep disorders, eye problems, and other diseases.

  • OLED technology emits soft diffused light that is uniformly produced from a flat panel, which reduces glare and provides a more comfortable light for your eyes.

When making the choice between types of lighting to feature in businesses, hotels, and homes, impacts on health should be one of your top priorities. Choosing the right lighting design can be the factor that improves the mental health of the people in a space. When it comes to addressing mental health in an artificially-lit world, OLED light technology is an important part of the solution.

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