4 Reasons to Supplement Artificial Lighting with Natural Light
By Torrin Greathouse | September 28, 2017
In our 24/7 a day 365 day a year culture, lighting is extremely important to the way we function. For hundreds of years, we planned our lives around the rise and fall of the sun, however, since the invention of the light bulb in 1880, the structure of our lives has drastically changed. We now spend the majority of our time under artificial electric lighting. At this point it is expected, but this is largely because we lack an understanding of how unhealthy artificial light can be. Because there are often building or job requirements which make replacing all artificial lights with natural light impossible, integrating the two is an important technique. Here are a few reasons you should consider supplementing artificial light with daylighting in your building.
One of the most drastic differences between artificial and natural light is its effects on the body. Our bodies are naturally attuned to sunlight, and our exposure to it is important to our bodies production and maintenance of many vitamins and neurotransmitters, such as vitamin C and D. Because of this, those who spend the majority of their time under artificial light tend to get sick more regularly because their immune systems are not working correctly. On the other hand, those who are regularly exposed to sunlight are far healthier, as it not only stimulates the immune system, it also aids in the prevention of rickets, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, depression, and more. These improvements in health also lead to lower rates of employee absenteeism, reducing sick days by an average of 6.5%.
Helps Maximize Sleep
Another important neurotransmitter which is affected by sunlight is melatonin, the neurotransmitter which governs sleep. Because of the blue light produced by many artificial lighting products, as well as computers and phone screens, many people in our society experience insomnia and sleep disturbances, leaving them drained and unfocused throughout the day. This is because the blue light tricks our bodies into believing it is daytime, curbing our production of melatonin. This can be counteracted by integrating skylights or other daylighting into a building, ensuring that occupants receive broad-spectrum natural light, helping to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm.
A common issue with with LED and CFL lamps is that the light they produce flickers intermittently. While this flickering is in most cases imperceptible to the naked eye, our eyes still attempt to adjust to these rapid minor changes, which can create repetitive eye strain. This in turn contributes to stress induced migraines and the degradation of vision over time. Utilizing natural light instead will ensure a steady source of light, allowing occupants’ eyes to relax. Reducing strain on the eyes also helps to minimize the effects of myopia, or short-sightedness, which is growing in prevalence across the globe.
These health benefits add up, and can have another major effect on the workplace—drastically increasing employee productivity. Between the minimized eye strain and increased energy from more healthy sleep habits, employees in daylit environments experience increased focus and positive moods. This leads to an average business-wide increase in productivity of around 16%.
Integrating daylighting around your building’s pre-existing artificial lights can help drastically improve health and productivity, as well as helping ensure lower energy costs by allowing you to turn off electric lighting during the day.
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