Natural Lighting

No life can exist without the presence of natural sunshine. Each spring we feel the joy and energy that longer sun filled days bring. All of nature wakes up to the added benefit of more and more natural light. There is convincing research that poor lighting environments can produce increased depression and even result in more severe cases called S.A.D. or "Seasonal Affective Disorder." This problem increases more and more as the winter months bring shorter and shorter days. "Sunlight Starvation" also affects millions more in the form of a milder version called the "Winter Blues".

When daylight enters our eyes, it reaches the pineal gland (also known as the seat of the soul or the third eye) and activates our Endocrine system which is connected to our immune and nervous systems. The pineal gland reduces the production of the light sensitive hormone, melatonin from 100% in the night to 10% during the day. The balance of melatonin has been proven to be a crucial element in many health related studies and has been linked to estrogen production, and many cancer related diseases. Stimulating proper production of melatonin from the pineal glad is paramount to good health.

The question is how do you do this?

The answer to that has been addressed by many photobiologists as of late. "They state that exposure to Full-Spectrum light has an important influence on the endocrine system and can reduce the risks of many diseases, including cancer. These studies have shown that the retina can, when stimulated by the proper wave lengths of light, synthesize melatonin directly to the pineal gland. Malillumination can prohibit proper secretion of melatonin. So light of a proper type and intensity can be considered a nutrient.

At the beginning of the 20th century over 70% of north Americans worked outdoors thus benefiting from exposure to essential natural outdoor light. The result of this change has been severe in many cases due to spending more and more time under the type of lights which are missing that portion of the sun’s spectrum which is important in triggering proper melatonin secretion.

It is estimated that over 38 million north Americans feel the effects of malillumination causing poor work conditions which can result in less energy and productiveness.

There is convincing research that poor lighting environments can produce increased depression and even result in more severe cases called S.A.D. or "Seasonal Affective Disorder." This problem increases more and more as the winter months bring shorter and shorter days. "Sunlight Starvation" also affects millions more in the form of a milder version called the "Winter Blues".

Since 1978 researchers and scientists world wide have documented the successful use of bright light therapy as a significant antidepressant. According to the Dec 8th, 1993 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, for many patients with S.A.D., light therapy should be regarded as first-line treatment. Light therapy is endorsed by the American Psychiatric Assoc. and the National Institute of Mental Health. Your insurance carrier may reimburse the cost of this purchase if prescribed by your therapist.

Full-spectrum light sources and color perception

Full-spectrum light sources will probably provide excellent color rendering. Color is a human perception constructed from the combination of the spectral power distribution (SPD) of the light source, the spectral reflectance of the materials being illuminated, and the tri-chromatic nature of the human visual system. If there are gaps or large variations in the SPD of a light source, there is a potential for confusion between the apparent colors of objects. Since full-spectrum light sources usually provide radiant power throughout the visible spectrum, subtle differences in the spectral reflectance characteristics of different objects are discernable. So, when color identification is part of the visual task, such as for graphic arts, museums and color printing applications, full-spectrum light sources will ensure good color discrimination.

Full-spectrum light sources and visual performance

Full-spectrum light sources will not provide better visual performance than other light sources under most circumstances. Visual performance is the speed and accuracy of processing achromatic information (e.g., black print on white paper) by the human visual system. At the relatively high light levels typically found in schools and offices, visual performance is essentially unaffected by the spectral power distribution of the light source, so full-spectrum light sources are, lumen for lumen, no better than any other light source.

Full-spectrum light sources and health

Full-spectrum light sources will not provide better health than most other electric light sources. Recent research has shown that human daily activities are strongly influenced by the solar light/dark cycle. The most notable of these daily, or circadian, cycles is the sleep/wake cycle; but other activities including mental awareness, mood, and perhaps even the effectiveness of the immune system go through regular daily patterns. Light is the most important environmental stimulus for regulating these circadian cycles and synchronizing them to the solar day. Short wavelength (blue) light is particularly effective at regulating the circadian system; long wavelength (red) light is apparently inconsequential to the circadian system. Thus, to maximize efficiency in affecting the circadian system, a light source should not mimic a full spectrum, but instead should maximize only short wavelengths. Even if a full-spectrum light source includes short wavelength light in its spectrum, it will not necessarily ensure proper circadian regulation because, in addition, the proper intensity, timing, and duration of the light exposure are all equally important for satisfactory circadian regulation.

Full-spectrum light sources and psychological benefits

Full-spectrum light sources may have psychological benefits, particularly in societies that place value on "natural" environments. One of the claims often associated with full-spectrum light sources is that they are most like natural daylight. Unlike full-spectrum electric light sources, however, daylight does not have a fixed spectrum. Rather, natural light varies with latitude, time of day, season, cloud cover, air pollution, ground reflectance, and, if a person is indoors, window tinting. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that people consistently prefer natural lighting from windows and skylights to electrical lights. These preferences are robust and may reflect psychological associations with the natural environment that produce positive affect in many people. Positive affect induced by daylight may, in fact, help improve mood and motivation and thus increase productivity and retail sales. Full-spectrum light sources offer this positive association with daylight. Although positive psychological benefits from full-spectrum light sources may have been observed in some circumstances, there appears to be no biophysical explanation for those observations. Still, the power of psychological associations cannot be denied and it is certainly conceivable that cleverly marketed full-spectrum light sources may provide beneficial effects to some people susceptible to that marketing.

 Eat Well. Move Well. Live Well.


Learn More: Full Spectrum Lighting Solutions

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