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Cool lighting sharpens perception, ups productivity; warm lighting relaxes the mind, creates a comfy environment.
General truths are helpful, but only up to a point. The matter of lighting is more complicated than you think.
Concerning how to choose lighting products, Human Centric Lighting (HCL) is the trending topic you shouldn’t miss. The study of HCL will let you understand more about the art of lighting, and help you choose your most suitable products.
Human Centric Lighting
Human Centric Lighting (HCL), a system catering to specific human needs, is the most widely discussed topic in the lighting industry.
As LED technology matures, we witness a standardisation of energy-saving levels and environmental requirements. The rise of smart-lighting also raises the standard requirements of lighting.
But incessantly emphasising the energy-saving aspect of lighting entails the neglect of lighting products’ quality.
That’s how Human Centric Lighting (HCL) is born.
HCL refers to a lighting system beneficial to humans. When utilised wisely, the system can enhance our biological functions, emotions and health.
We spend more than half of our time under interior lighting. Therefore, the lighting system not only help us see, but also affects our spirits, health and emotions.
Imitating the sun
HCL imitates how the quality of sunlight changes in a day, to regulate our natural circadian rhythm.
The intelligent control system embodies HCL’s idea of healthy lighting. To cater to varying human needs according to the environment, the system regulates the direction, colour temperature and brightness of the light source. This enhances human vision, as well as emotions.
The study also found that light wave at different frequencies creates different biological effects on the human brain. Melatonin level is a succinct example.
Secreted in the brain, melatonin is a hormone which regulates our circadian rhythm, and prevents against various diseases.
The intensity of light we are exposed to affects the secretion of melatonin in our brain. In the dark environment of the night, the brain secretes more melatonin. While during the day, bright lights suppresses the secretion of this hormone.
How lighting affects humans
In an environment where the colour temperature of the lighting is high (around 6500K), we experience increased alertness and concentration.
This proves beneficial to our general productivity, and it follows that if we widely implement HCL lighting in homes, schools, offices and hospital, the health benefits it brings us will be immense.
In Japan, HCL is already utilised in lighting planning; the goal is to promote human health.
While in workplaces and schools where productivity takes precedence, lighting which sharpens the mind is incorporated.
For places like hospitals and nursing homes, lighting that promotes healing and immunity is employed.
The theme of hospital lighting is recuperation and comfort. The low-anxiety lighting is not only tailored for the sick, but also the medical staff who experience extreme mental pressure on a daily basis.
Safety is also a focus of the lighting system for hospitals. Eliminating the necessity of worry over safety is crucial to hospital lighting.
Schools and offices
Studying and staring at computer screens are eye-straining activities by themselves. Without a healthy lighting system, the resulting eye damage would double. HCL understands both our needs to accomplish in the workplace and at school, and to stay healthy to go even further.
Human Centric Lighting’s revolutionary ideas
Do not underestimate the effects light and darkness can have on us.
We have been taking the current way of lighting for granted. We haven’t given much thought to flicking the lights on and off. Our mindless acceptance of the status quo illustrates just how insidious habits can be.
In fact, lighting affects our health continuously. We might not have been complaining verbally about the strength of light around us, but our perceptive bodies have been. Poor sleeping quality and dry eyes are our bodies’ cry for help.
The birth of HCL might be the revolution the lighting industry desperately needs. In the future, HCl will be safeguarding our health, physically and mentally.
Further reading: What is melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone responsible for regulation of the circadian rhythm to manage our natural sleep cycle. As a supplement, it assists sleep and is used to treat sleeping disorders.
In normal situations, the retina senses the strength of blue light in the environment, and emit signal to the pineal gland in the brain. The brain in turns produces the melatonin hormone.
Melatonin is nicknamed the ‘Dracula of hormone’; it only comes out at night in the dark. But apart from sleep, melatonin is essential in managing blood pressure, cortisol levels and cell regeneration.
The secretion of melatonin peaks in the middle portion of the night, and decreases as the night goes by and the sky lightens in the morning.
Since the invention of electrical lighting, the time we spend in the dark decreases to below eight hours on average.
Melatonin production level is closely linked to light exposure. Even the dimmest light can effect a drop in melatonin level. Needless to say, strong lights from your phone screen will surely disrupt your sleep.
Considering the myriad of roles melatonin play in our bodies’ biological processes, we can easily see why night-shifters are more susceptible to cancer.