Proper lighting is proven to massively boost productivity.
Light is one of the most underrated, natural influencers on our health. Studies show that the impact of light on our daily routine is substantial, and that the initial cost of setting up proper lighting in your home or office is very small when compared to the benefits. It doesn’t take much other than a few new bulbs or an automated daylight spectrum.
Take an example: In the late 1980s, the U.S. post office in Reno, Nevada was renovated to make the lighting system more worker friendly. The upgrade saved that post office about $50,000 per year in energy, but the real improvements were seen in employee productivity. Mail sorters in the facility became the most productive sorters in the western United States, machine operators exhibited the lowest error rates, and the improved productivity increased revenue by approximately $500,000 per year.
And this wasn’t unique to the post office in Reno, Nevada. Countless other companies around the world have noted productivity increases from lighting renovations.
Why is Light Important? Studies by Northwestern and Cornell
"By studying circadian rhythm in sleep labs, we know that light is the most important synchronizing agent for the brain and the body," says Ivy Cheung, a doctoral candidate working in Dr. Phyllis Zee's laboratory at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Cheung and Zee's most recent study found that workers with a window near their desk had a much better sense of health. They examined the lives of 49 people, 27 worked in windowless offices and 22 worked near windows. These subjects worked a typical, 9am-5pm day shift. Participants were not told about the objectives of the study.
According to Cheung and Zee’s study, exposure to natural light during the workweek inspired people to exercise with greater intensity and more often. Workers with a window were better rested, sleeping an average of 46 more minutes a night, whereas the ones without windows were more restless and prone to more disturbances while sleeping.
In another study from Cornell University, researchers looked at the performance of nurses who worked long shifts during nonstandard hours. The study was published in the journal Health Environments Research and Design.
Researchers found that nurses who had access to natural light communicated better with their patients and colleagues. They were more cheerful at work and laughed more often. These nurses were nicer to their patients and their physical health improved. Those who saw daylight also had significantly lower blood pressure. The study was done in comparison with nurses who worked in an environment of predominantly artificial light.
Lighting also affects how you sleep. Exposing yourself to bright, cool light before bed will confuse your body into thinking it’s time to be awake and lively. Cell phones and other screens are the worse things to stare at before bed, yet we’re all guilty of doing it. In response to dim, nighttime light your body will release melatonin which helps you fall asleep.
How to Improve the Light in Your Life
It’s easier than you might think. First, you’ll need a quick refresher on color temperature, where certain color temperatures occur, and how they affect you.
Let’s dive into dive into a quick explanation, courtesy of a report from Westinghouse:
The temperature of light, measured in Kelvin (K), is a numerical measurement of the color that’s emitted when an object is heated in a high enough temperature. As the temperature increases, the object changes colors and emits certain colors of that light. Think of a blacksmith heating up a horseshoe; the glow of the shoe will change from red to orange to yellow to white as the temperature increases.
Higher color temperatures (4,600K or more) appear blue-white and are called cool or daylight colors.
Mid-range color temperatures (3,100K–4,600K) appear cool white.
Lower color temperatures (up to 3,000K) range from red to yellowish-white in tone and are called warm colors.
A few examples of everyday events on the color spectrum:
- The glow from a fire is about 2,000K and is considered a warm color.
- A sunset is about 4,000K and is considered a cool white color.
- A sunny day is about 5,000K or 5,500K and is considered a cool color.
- An overcast winter day is measured at about 7,000K and is considered a cool color.
Look around you right now. Are the lights warm or cool? Are they too bright or too dim? Do they make you squint?
The light that you encounter in your everyday life should be synced with your natural circadian rhythm: a 24-hour, biological process that matches, or is changed by, your environment. Think of the Earth’s rotation around the sun and the moon’s rotation around Earth. Those are both examples of environmental occurrences that affect our biological rhythms.
So if you’re inside all day, away from the rich rays of the sun, you’re actively disrupting your circadian rhythm. The same happens when you stare at your phone before trying to go to sleep. Over time, this can cause a rise in blood pressure, lowered immunity to sickness, and depression. But thanks to advancements made in lighting technology, we no longer have to be subject to absorbing cool, blue light during the day.
Many new products like the EcoQube C have a built-in light (blue-white, daylight color) that’s capable of syncing your indoor lighting with level of light outside. That doesn’t mean that when the sun goes down, the light turns off; actually, the light will continue to illuminate with warm, colorful, night tones.
In the case of the EcoQube, the light not only helps to maintain a healthy ecosystem inside the aquarium, but the automated timing of the light helps every owner maintain a healthy circadian rhythm. In the near future, every home will have something like the EcoQube C: A product with an automated and programmable cool light system to help every human live a healthier life.
We hope you learned lots about light and human health!