The Science Behind Lighting, Productivity & Sleep Health
Do you suffer from insomnia and sleeping difficulties? How about poor energy levels or grogginess throughout the day? Then this article could be useful to you as we explore the topic of Circadian Rhythm and how it affects our overall wellbeing.
What is Circadian Rhythm?
Circadian Rhythm is essentially our body’s internal biological 24-hour clock, which serves the purpose of informing us when to sleep and when to wake. Not surprisingly, our sleep health and overall mental and physical wellbeing is contingent upon our Circadian Rhythm working properly, and remaining synchronised with day and night. This may explain why jet lag feels terrible as the time difference between our home country and the foreign country we are visiting can throw our Circadian Rhythm out of sync. For most people, it takes a few days for the body’s internal clock to finally adjust to the foreign country’s conditions.
So far, research has established that Circadian Rhythms can influence our sleep-wake cycles, hormone regulation, body temperature and even our immune system. More importantly, in the long term, prolonged cycles of abnormal Circadian Rhythms have been associated with obesity, diabetes, depression, seasonal affective disorder and other chronic diseases! And, this is why prioritizing our Circadian Rhythm is vitally important. When our Circadian Rhythm is properly synced, we will sleep soundly at night and have energy throughout the day.
What role does “Light” plays in Circadian Rhythm?
“Light” is the single most important external cue in influencing our Circadian Rhythms, turning on or off hormones that control our sleeping patterns. When the day turns dark, our body senses the lack of light and produces a hormone called melatonin, which signals our body that it is time to sleep. Similarly, when the eye senses light in the morning, it produces a hormone called cortisol that sends a signal to our brain that it is time to be awake. The “winter blues”, a seasonal illness characterised by tiredness, sluggishness and overall dull mood, is likely a mass persona of a misaligned Circadian Rhythm at a grand scale as the days get shorter and colder. Now that we know the importance of Circadian Rhythm and the vital role that “Light” plays, what can we do about it?
Striking a balance between Cool White & Warm White
Whether we like it or not, a large amount of our daily activities are now powered by artificial lighting. Given the prevalence of artificial lighting in our daily lives, what can we do to maximise its effects of say, increasing productivity, and minimising it’s effects on our Circadian Rhythm? Here’s an interesting fact: research has recently revealed that Cool White LED reduces melatonin production twice as much as Warm White LED.
- Get bright Cool White light exposure during the day
The best way to set your Circadian clock is to be exposed to bright (ideally sunlight) during the day. Cool White lights are best used in the daytime, to increase productivity and stay focused.
- Avoid bright Cool White light exposure in the evening
Just as it is important to tell your body that it is daytime, it is equally important to tell your body it’s night time once the sun goes down. It is best to avoid Cool White lighting in the evening as it drastically reduces the production of melatonin, a hormone crucial for inducing sleep. Use Warm White lights instead, as it is more soothing to the eyes and less disruptive to your Circadian Rhythm.
You can improve the production of melatonin by keeping your indoor lighting as dim as possible in the evenings with dimmer switches, or invest in colour-shifting LED lights such as the Eglo Cardito. When it is time to rest, just switch the lights to Warm White light. When it is time to work, switch them back to Cool White light.